The influence of culture, urbanisation, education and gender on local-global perceptual bias

Spray, Helen Jane. 2018. The influence of culture, urbanisation, education and gender on local-global perceptual bias. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

We examined the roles of urbanisation and education in shaping the development of local-global bias across culture, age (early childhood to adulthood) and gender. We compared local-global bias, measured by a similarity-matching Navon task, across traditional and urban Namibian, Eastern-European Roma and British populations.

We found considerable within-group and between-group variability in local-global bias and evidence that urbanisation, education, gender and age all contributed to this variance. Effects of urbanisation, education, gender and age were highly interrelated. Higher levels of both urbanisation and education were associated with increased global bias; however, the effects of these variables were not equal for all groups.

Within-group analyses showed that whilst the association between urbanisation and global bias was somewhat stronger for females than males, the association between education and global bias was considerably stronger for males. Between-group analyses showed effects of urbanisation and education that were dependent on both age and gender.

We discuss the physical and sociocultural aspects of the environment associated with urbanisation and education which might contribute to their effects on local-global bias, how these environmental characteristics might interact with biological factors, and psychological factors which might mediate their effects.

Local-global bias does not follow a fixed developmental trajectory and variability in local-global bias may be more widespread than has previously been acknowledged. For example, urbanised, educated women sometimes nonetheless presented with a local bias. This finding also demonstrates that neither urbanisation nor education in and of themselves is sufficient to produce a global bias.

Rather, we suggest that urbanisation and education may potentiate a global bias but that a global bias may be realised only if other criteria are met. Sociocultural factors such as SES, environmental stressors and social power are implicated as possible limiting factors; however, their effects are neither tested nor confirmed in this thesis.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


visual cognition, visual perception, perceptual bias, local-global, global-local, attention, concrete-abstract, conceptual bias, cross-cultural psychology, development, gender; education, urbanisation, urbanization

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 August 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Oct 2018 11:22

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


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