Overview of Social Psychology

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Sensation refers to an actual event. Perception refers to how we interpret the event. What are some cultural differences that might affect responses to particular stimuli?

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According to the source in the link below, a 2007 study by Denise Park, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and others, found that among elderly groups, Americans and East Asians processed visual information differently.

In this study, both groups were shown images of figures...

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According to the source in the link below, a 2007 study by Denise Park, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and others, found that among elderly groups, Americans and East Asians processed visual information differently.

In this study, both groups were shown images of figures on backgrounds. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to monitor the activity of the lateral occipital complex, an area of the brain that processes visual information. The younger people in both groups showed similar brain activity in response to these stimuli. However, among the older groups (ages 60–78), the neural processing among Americans remained active, while the East Asian group showed minimal neural processing.

Park believes this is because East Asians are taught to be less individualistic and more oriented to the group. When looking at visual information, the brains of East Asians tend to focus on the background, while Americans' brains tend to focus on individual objects. While scientists have been aware for a long time that these groups processed visual information differently, this study showed that the groups also differed (among their elderly members) in their neural activity as well.

This study shows that culture affects the way in which individuals process information and react to stimuli. Americans are trained to focus on individuals, while East Asians tend to focus on the backgrounds and the overall environment. The way different cultures are taught to look at the environment affects their perceptions of the environment, even on the neural level. There are other examples you might think of that speak to how one's culture can affect one's perceptions. For example, different cultures also interpret facial gestures and looks differently, as people from different cultures are trained to think about emotions and the display of emotions in different ways.

Source:

Park, D. C., et. al. (2007). Age and culture modulate object processing and object-scene binding in the ventral visual area. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(1), 44-52. https://doi.org/10.3758/CABN.7.1.44
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