Cultural Effects on Pictorial Perception: How Many Words Is One Picture Really Worth?

  • Margaret A. Hagen
  • Rebecca K. Jones
Part of the Perception and Perceptual Development book series (PPD, volume 1)


Why would anyone study pictorial perception cross-culturally? Two reasons are given in the literature. The first is to identify group differences among cultures in their understanding of pictorial materials. This reason is pragmatic. Pictures are ubiquitous in urban, industrialized cultures and we rely on their information-carrying value in teaching, testing, transportation, communications, industry, etc. In the past, the unspoken assumption has been that specific experience with pictures was not a necessary prerequisite to understanding them since it was commonly held that a picture was indeed worth at least a thousand words. However, this unspoken assumption was not always supported by the experiences of people in nonurban/industrialized cultures. Reports began to appear on the general inadequacy of pictorial materials as universal and culture-independent instruments of communication and the cross-cultural picture work was begun. The aim of the work is to identify groups failing to perceive in the previously expected manner and to isolate the causes of that failure, e. g., absence of Western schooling.


Line Drawing Depth Perception Cultural Effect Pictorial Material Linear Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret A. Hagen
    • 1
  • Rebecca K. Jones
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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