A cross-cultural study of the representation of shape: Sensitivity to generalized cone dimensions

Lescroart, Mark; Biederman, Irving; Yue, Xiaomin and Davidoff, Jules B.. 2010. A cross-cultural study of the representation of shape: Sensitivity to generalized cone dimensions. Visual Cognition, 18(1), pp. 50-66. ISSN 1350-6285 [Article]

PSY_davidoff-lescroart_2010.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (362kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Many of the phenomena underlying shape recognition can be derived from an assumption that the representation of simple parts can be understood in terms of independent dimensions of generalized cones, e.g., whether the axis of a cylinder is straight or curved or whether the sides are parallel or nonparallel. What enables this sensitivity? One explanation is that the representations derive from our immersion in a manufactured world of simple objects, e.g., a cylinder and a funnel, where these dimensions can be readily discerned independent of other stimulus variations. An alternative explanation is that genetic coding and/or early experience with extended contours - a characteristic of all naturally varying visual worlds - would be sufficient to develop the appropriate representations. The Himba, a seminomadic people in a remote region of Northwestern Namibia with little exposure to regular, simple artifacts, were virtually identical to western observers in representing generalized-cone dimensions of simple shapes independently. Thus immersion in a world of simple, manufactured shapes is not required for the development of a representation that specifies these dimensions independently.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Additional Information:

Visit Related URL for full text.

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:




Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Feb 2011 10:23

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:30

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)