"I know where that is": Cultural Differences in Perception of Places

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Lee, Myeong
Butler, Brian S.
This study focuses on modeling people's perceptions of places and how those perceptions are affected by cultural differences. Cultural background affects the way people feel and recall information. However, it is unclear how cultural background influences individual's perception of geospatial areas such as a town or a city. One way an individual's cultural background varies is with regard to the patterns of one's routine communication. This concept is described by Hall's high- and low-context cultural model (1976). The ways people perceive geospatial places can be characterized in terms of their tendency to rely on specific landmarks or symbolic addresses. In this study, we use an online survey and an online place recognition game to test the hypothesis that high-context individuals will perceive urban places in terms of landmarks rather than symbolic addresses. The results suggest that high- and low-context is not a unified construct. Instead it is a multi-dimensional construct with sub-dimensions where one of those, i.e. one's attitude towards other's communication style, may affect an individual's perception of places.