Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

East views the world differently to West

Date:
February 6, 2012
Source:
Economic & Social Research Council
Summary:
Cultural differences between the West and East are well documented, but a study shows that concrete differences also exist in how British and Chinese people recognize people and the world around them. Easterners really do look at the world differently to Westerners, according to new research.

Cultural differences between the West and East are well documented, but a study shows that concrete differences also exist in how British and Chinese people recognise people and the world around them. Easterners really do look at the world differently to Westerners, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Related Articles


"British and Chinese people process visual information in very different ways," explains researcher Dr David Kelly from Royal Holloway, University of London. "This is important not simply from a research viewpoint, but because it helps us understand much better some of the cultural differences between East and West which people can sometimes find disconcerting."

For example, while most British people look at a person's eyes when they are talking to them, Chinese people are much less likely to make eye contact. "This can leave the British person feeling uncomfortable and distrustful," Dr Kelly points out. "On the other hand, the Chinese person would consider eye contact to be potentially disrespectful and impolite."

Research now suggests that this particular cultural contrast is underpinned by the different ways Westerners (British) and Easterners (Chinese) 'process' visual information. While adults from Western cultures process information analytically by focusing on key features, adults from the East process information in a more holistic style, which also takes context and situation into account.

In terms of eye contact for example, this means that when a Westerner processes a person's face they will typically fixate on the key feature of the face, usually the eyes. An Easterner, in contrast, will largely avoid the eyes (hence the lack of eye contact) and take in information from a wider area below the eyes and around the nose. Interestingly, the studies also show that when asked to recognise other unfamiliar stimuli, such as sheep faces, Westerners and Easterners continue to employ their different face processing strategies in animals.

The researchers also explored when the learning of socio-cultural processing strategies took place by carrying out a series of visual processing studies with British and Chinese children, aged five to 12.

"If culture is responsible for shaping the way visual information is extracted and processed, then it is reasonable to assume that the strategies observed in Eastern adults emerge during childhood," Dr Kelly points out. "And our research showed this to be the case. Both British and Chinese children showed only minimal or no differences in processing strategies at the youngest age groups of five and six years year olds, but the different ways of processing visual information had emerged by the age of 12."

While the mechanisms by which these different strategies emerge between age five and 12 is at present unknown, researchers believe these findings make an important contribution to smoothing cross-cultural relations. "While the Chinese are extremely keen to act appropriately and not offend anyone, cultural differences can make interactions uncomfortable and frustrating," Dr Kelly explains. "Greater awareness of how these differences arise can only help improve communication between East and West."

Further information.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Economic & Social Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Economic & Social Research Council. "East views the world differently to West." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206102948.htm>.
Economic & Social Research Council. (2012, February 6). East views the world differently to West. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206102948.htm
Economic & Social Research Council. "East views the world differently to West." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206102948.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Researchers at University of Texas at Austin found a link between binge-watching TV shows and feelings of loneliness and depression. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

BuzzFeed (Jan. 28, 2015) "No, I&apos;m not mad. Why, are you mad?" Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins