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Vision Res. 2007 Sep;47(21):2714-26. Epub 2007 Jul 5.

Eye movements during information processing tasks: individual differences and cultural effects.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


The eye movements of native English speakers, native Chinese speakers, and bilingual Chinese/English speakers who were either born in China (and moved to the US at an early age) or in the US were recorded during six tasks: (1) reading, (2) face processing, (3) scene perception, (4) visual search, (5) counting Chinese characters in a passage of text, and (6) visual search for Chinese characters. Across the different groups, there was a strong tendency for consistency in eye movement behavior; if fixation durations of a given viewer were long on one task, they tended to be long on other tasks (and the same tended to be true for saccade size). Some tasks, notably reading, did not conform to this pattern. Furthermore, experience with a given writing system had a large impact on fixation durations and saccade lengths. With respect to cultural differences, there was little evidence that Chinese participants spent more time looking at the background information (and, conversely less time looking at the foreground information) than the American participants. Also, Chinese participants' fixations were more numerous and of shorter duration than those of their American counterparts while viewing faces and scenes, and counting Chinese characters in text.

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