Pay Attention

Green tree under blue sky

What do you get when you cross a Chinese father and a German mother?

Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science… and a curious study where East meets West. 

Tarek Amer at the University of Toronto explored the different ways we gaze. Sixty West European and East Asian immigrants saw pictures overlaid with distracting, unrelated words. Like a banana… labelled MARGARITA. 

Next, the group matched pictures to previous ones while ignoring the words.  

How did they do? Well, I don’t want to sugar-coat it: East Asians matched pictures faster than West Europeans. Amer’s theory? Ethnic culture MIGHT affect how our brains build and use information. 

Picture a tree. East Asians, reportedly more communal, may view it BROADLY. They’ll note background details, like branches. West Europeans are more self-focused and pay attention NARROWLY. They may notice CENTRAL details, like the bark.

Neither is better, just different! Amer hopes understanding culture could help us solve problems, see patterns, and enjoy learning! 

As a Sino-Germanic science writer, I’ll just say both of MINE were Tiger Parents — and I do enjoy learning. AND a margarita. I do.