Cultural modulations of space-time compatibility effects

Antonino Vallesi, Yael Weisblatt, Carlo Semenza, Samuel Shaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The representation of elapsing time may require spatial attention. In certain circumstances, this spatial representation develops from left to right. This is suggested by a performance advantage in responding short with the left hand and long with the right hand (spatial-temporal association between response codes [STEARC]). The present study tests whether one possible determinant of the directionality of the STEARC effect is cultural. In particular, we investigated whether reading/writing habits can affect STEARC direction by administering a visual time judgment task to Italian participants, who were exposed to a left-to-right reading/writing system, and Israeli participants, who mainly used a right-to-left system. The Italian participants showed a left-to-right STEARC effect, while this effect was not present in the Israeli group. The study demonstrates that cultural habits can influence the way in which spatial attention supports the representation of time, similar to the pattern found in other nonspatial domains such as numbers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-669
Number of pages4
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Cultural differences
  • Spatial processing
  • STEARC effect
  • Time representation
  • Writing system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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