It is well documented that East Asians differ from Westerners in conscious perception and attention. However, few studies have explored cultural differences in unconscious processes such as implicit learning.
The global-local Navon letters were adopted in the serial reaction time (SRT) task, during which Chinese and British participants were instructed to respond to global or local letters, to investigate whether culture influences what people acquire in implicit sequence learning. Our results showed that from the beginning British expressed a greater local bias in perception than Chinese, confirming a cultural difference in perception. Further, over extended exposure, the Chinese learned the target regularity better than the British when the targets were global, indicating a global advantage for Chinese in implicit learning. Moreover, Chinese participants acquired greater unconscious knowledge of an irrelevant regularity than British participants, indicating that the Chinese were more sensitive to contextual regularities than the British.
The results suggest that cultural biases can profoundly influence both what people consciously perceive and unconsciously learn.