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Memory for body movements in Namibian hunter-gatherer children


Haun,  Daniel B. M.
Comparative Cognitive Anthropology, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology;

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Haun, D. B. M. (2011). Memory for body movements in Namibian hunter-gatherer children. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 10, 56-62.

Despite the global universality of physical space, different cultural groups vary substantially as to how they memorize it. Although European participants mostly prefer egocentric strategies (“left, right, front, back”) to memorize spatial relations, others use mostly allocentric strategies (“north, south, east, west”). Prior research has shown that some cultures show a general preference to memorize object locations and even also body movements in relation to the larger environment rather than in relation to their own body. Here, we investigate whether this cultural bias also applies to movements specifically directed at the participants' own body, emphasizing the role of ego. We show that even participants with generally allocentric biases preferentially memorize self-directed movements using egocentric spatial strategies. These results demonstrate an intricate system of interacting cultural biases and momentary situational characteristics.