Culture Shapes How We Look at Faces.
Blais C, Jack RE, Scheepers C, Fiset D, Caldara R
PLOS One (2008)
Category: ethology ¤ Added: Aug 20, 2008 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
Background: Face processing, amongst many basic visual skills, is thought to be invariant across all humans. From as early as 1965, studies of eye movements have consistently revealed a systematic triangular sequence of fixations over the eyes and the mouth, suggesting that faces elicit a universal, biologically-determined information extraction pattern. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we monitored the eye movements of Western Caucasian and East Asian observers while they learned, recognized, and categorized by race Western Caucasian and East Asian faces. Western Caucasian observers reproduced a scattered triangular pattern of fixations for faces of both races and across tasks. Contrary to intuition, East Asian observers focused more on the central region of the face. Conclusions/Significance: These results demonstrate that face processing can no longer be considered as arising from a universal series of perceptual events. The strategy employed to extract visual information from faces differs across cultures.