More accurate size contrast judgments in the Ebbinghaus illusion by a remote culture


  • Fockert Jan
  • Davidoff Jules
  • Fagot Joël
  • Parron Carole
  • Goldstein Julie

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The Ebbinghaus (Titchener) illusion was examined in a remote culture (Himba) with no words for geometric shapes. The illusion was experienced less strongly by Himba compared with English participants, leading to more accurate size contrast judgments in the Himba. The study included two conditions of inducing stimuli. The illusion was weaker when the inducing stimuli were dissimilar (diamonds) to the target (circle) compared with when they were similar (circles). However, the illusion was weakened to the same extent in both cultures. It is argued that the more accurate size judgments of the Himba derive from their tendency to prioritize the analysis of local details in visual processing of multiple objects, and not from their impoverished naming.

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