An accurate perception of the space surrounding us is central for effective and safe everyday functioning. Understanding the factors influencing spatial perception is therefore vital. Here, we first confirm previous reports that our cultural reading habits shape the perception of space. Twenty-four left-to-right readers (tested in Australia) and 23 right-to-left readers (tested in Israel) over-attend to information presented on the left and right side of space, respectively. We then show that this cultural bias is highly malleable. By employing a simple mirror-reading task prior to the spatial judgments, we demonstrate that the supposed cultural bias can be easily overridden. These findings question hardwired, lateralisation models of spatial-attentional biases and highlight the need for a dynamic model that takes into account hemispheric lateralisation, cultural habits and situational context.
- Reading habits
- Spatial perception