Can Two People Process Different Things Based on Differences in Cultural Identity?
by Emily Cho
Abstract – Can cultural differences influence how people perceive and subsequently recall visual stimuli? East Asians tend to holistically process visual stimuli by attending to relationship, whereas Westerners tend to analytically process by attending to focal features. Previous aging studies suggest that older adults relative to younger adults bind target and distractor items despite attempts to inhibit distractors, which benefits subsequent explicit learning. Through implicit exposure to word-picture pairs in a 1-back task, we investigated whether there were cultural differences between East Asians and Westerners on an explicit learning task using similar stimuli. East Asians are likely to process visual stimuli holistically (e.g., Lao et al., 2013), so we predicted that they would bind the target picture and distractor word together, facilitating explicit learning. Conversely, we predicted Westerners to analytically process words and pictures separately, with successful inhibition of the distractor word, resulting in no facilitation on the explicit learning task. We found differences that suggest Easter Asians are engaging in binding. This may suggest that bottom-up perceptual processes occur concurrently to top-down attentional inhibition, interacting to influence memory recall dependent on cultural identity.