Culture Differences in an Inattentional Blindness Study

Tita E. Rodriguez-Godinez, Kathleen Someah, Sandivel Torres Garcia


The purpose of this study was to determine if perception of a scene is different between people of Eastern cultures and people of Western cultures. Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan and Nisbett (2008) did two studies that showed differences between East Asians and Westerners with respect to pictures and photographs. Their results suggested that East Asians included more context information of a scene when drawing a picture or taking a photograph than Westerners. They had participants draw pictures of a house and sun, or take photographs of people. In both procedures, East Asians included more of the background than Americans. Simons and Chabris (1999) did a study on inattentional blindness. This occurs when attention is focused on one aspect of the environment, and other important aspects are missed. They had 228 observers (all undergraduate students) view a video of two groups of players bouncing a basketball to each other. One team was dressed in white, and the other team was dressed in black. The observers were told to count the number of bounces made by the white team, and to ignore the number of bounces made by the black team. During the video, a confederate in a gorilla costume walked across the screen. Simons and Chabris found that nearly fifty percent of the observers failed to see the gorilla. In the present study, Simons and Chabris’s experiment was replicated. Undergraduate freshmen aged 17 to 18 were participants. The participants viewed the video of the two teams passing the basketball in groups of 20 to 40 people, and were told to count the number of passes made by the white team. They were then asked a set of questions concerning objects they saw in the video (including the gorilla). Based on the research done by Masuda et al., it was predicted that East Asians would be more likely than Americans to see the gorilla, and that East Asians would be able to remember more background information in the video.


Culture; Innatentional Blindness; Holistic; Analytic

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