the influence of culture and environment

February 11th, 2009

TheThinkMovement.com by j. sakiya sandifer

The influence of culture and environment can have an effect on our visual perception.  This theory was first explored by Robert Laws, a Scottish missionary working in Malawi, Africa, during the late 1800’s.

Take a look at the picture above.  What is above the woman’s head?  What you see will largely depend on where you live in the world.  After you have examined the picture, scroll down for a more detailed explanation…
When scientists showed a similar sketch to people from East Africa, nearly all the participants in the experiment said she was balancing a box or metal can on her head.  In a culture containing few angular visual cues, the family is seen sitting under a tree.

Westerners, on the other hand, are accustomed to the corners and box-like shapes of architecture.  They are more likely to place the family indoors and to interpret the rectangle above the woman’s head as a window through which shrubbery can be seen.

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Entry Filed under: BraiNutrition, Think About It!

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