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Cultural differences in distraction processing: influence of context at retrieval

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Cultural differences in information processing affect perceptual judgment, attention, and memory. We investigated whether cultural differences in processing patterns, specifically East Asian participants’ tendency to encode holistically, compared to Western tendencies to process analytically, affect performance on an implicit memory test. First, participants completed a 1-back task on pictures with superimposed distracting words. After a delay filled with a computerised Corsi block task, they performed a word fragment task in which some fragments could be completed with the distracting words from the 1-back task. Critically, fragments were presented with the same pictures as previously seen (matched condition), with no pictures (control condition), or with pictures from other trials on the 1-back task (mismatched condition). Non-Asian Canadian participants showed virtually no priming for distraction, independent of the reinstatement of encoding context. East Asian Canadian participants showed superior priming for fragments that had been paired with their original pictures. They did not show evidence of a detriment for the mismatched, relative to control, condition.
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Keywords: Culture; context; distraction; information processing; priming

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Publication date: November 26, 2018

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