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Cultural Differences in Perception: Observations from a Remote Culture

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Perceptual similarity was examined in a remote culture (Himba) and compared to that of Western observers. Similarity was assessed in a relative size judgement task and in an odd-one-out detection task. Thus, we examined the effects of culture on what might be considered low-level visual abilities. For both tasks, we found that performance was affected by stimuli that were culturally relevant to the tasks. In Experiment 1, we showed that the use of cow stimuli instead of the standard circles increased illusory strength for the Himba. In Experiment 2, only the Himba showed more accurate detection based on category differences in the displays. It is argued that that Categorical Perception in Experiment 2, based on its presumed Whorfian origins, was the more reliable procedure for examining the effects of culture on perception.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Cognition, Computation and Culture, Goldsmiths' University of London, Lewisham Way, London SE14 6NW, UK

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