The Gaze-Cueing Effect in the United States and Japan: Influence of Cultural Differences in Cognitive Strategies on Control of Attention
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The direction of gaze automatically and exogenously guides visual spatial attention, a phenomenon termed as the gaze-cueing effect. Although this effect arises when the duration of stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between a non-predictive gaze cue and the target is relatively long, no empirical research has examined the factors underlying this extended cueing effect. Two experiments compared the gaze-cueing effect at longer SOAs (700 ms) in Japanese and American participants. Cross-cultural studies on cognition suggest that Westerners tend to use a context-independent analytical strategy to process visual environments, whereas Asians use a context-dependent holistic approach. We hypothesized that Japanese participants would not demonstrate the gaze-cueing effect at longer SOAs because they are more sensitive to contextual information, such as the knowledge that the direction of a gaze is not predictive. Furthermore, we hypothesized that American participants would demonstrate the gaze-cueing effect at the long SOAs because they tend to follow gaze direction whether it is predictive or not. In Experiment 1, American participants demonstrated the gaze-cueing effect at the long SOA, indicating that their attention was driven by the central non-predictive gaze direction regardless of the SOAs. In Experiment 2, Japanese participants demonstrated no gaze-cueing effect at the long SOA, suggesting that the Japanese participants exercised voluntary control of their attention, which inhibited the gaze-cueing effect with the long SOA. Our findings suggest that the control of visual spatial attention elicited by social stimuli systematically differs between American and Japanese individuals.
This research was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP25780447 and JP17K17909 to AA.
Frontiers in Psychology
© 2018 Takao, Yamani and Ariga. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.