Looking at photo reveals cultural differences

You mean everyone doesn’t see things the same as we do?

Are white folk really this obtuse?


Asians and North Americans really do see the world differently. Shown a photograph, North American students of European background paid more attention to the object in the foreground of a scene, while students from China spent more time studying the background and taking in the whole scene, according to University of Michigan researchers. The researchers, led by Hannah-Faye Chua and Richard Nisbett, tracked the eye movements of the students -- 25 European Americans and 27 native Chinese -- to determine where they were looking in a picture and how long they focused on a particular area. "They literally are seeing the world differently," said Nisbett. "Asians live in a more socially complicated world than we do," he said. "They have to pay more attention to others than we do. We are individualists. We can be bulls in a china shop; they can't afford it." The findings are reported in today's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.