10/02/2005

Anulios: East vs West

East vs West

From New Scientist via Strange Attractor: it appears that East and West really do see things differently - literally.

While Americans focus on the central objects of photographs, Chinese individuals pay more attention to the image as a whole, according to psychologists at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, US.

“There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that Western and East Asian people have contrasting world-views,” explains Richard Nisbett, who carried out the study. “Americans break things down analytically, focusing on putting objects into categories and working out what rules they should obey,” he says.

By contrast, East Asians have a more holistic philosophy, looking at objects in relation to the whole. “Figuratively, Americans see things in black and white, while East Asians see more shades of grey,” says Nisbett. “We wanted to devise an experiment to see if that translated to a literal difference in what they actually see.”

The researchers tracked the eye-movements of two groups of students while they looked at photographs. One group contained American-born graduates of European descent and the other was comprised of Chinese-born graduate students who came to the US after their undergraduate degrees.

Each picture showed a striking central image placed in a realistic background, such as a tiger in a jungle. They found that the American students spent longer looking at the central object, while the Chinese students’ eyes tended to dart around, taking in the context.

Anulios � Blog Archive � East vs West

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