Pictorial Perception and Culture

A picture is a pattern of lines and shaded areas on a flat surface that depicts some aspect of the real world. The ability to recognize objects in pictures is so common is most cultures that it is often taken for granted that such recognition is universal in man. Experiments have shown that people of one culture perceive a picture differently from people of another and that perception of pictures calls for some form of learning.

Figure Conventions for the two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional objects are culture specific (from Fischler and Firschein, 1987)

Conventions for depicting spatial arrangements of three-dimensional objects in a flat plane can give rise to difficulties in perception.


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Last modified on April 05, 1999, G. Scott Owen, owen@siggraph.org