The fields of social psychology and neuroscience have known for several decades that culture affects the way people carve up the world. This perceptual difference is often, but not always, aligned with similar differences in linguistics categories. If correct, this problem of linguistic categorization may have considerable impact on search algorithms. This paper examines the relationship between culture and linguistic categorization for global search engines. A total of 43 American and Chinese participants completed two classification tests, one derived from social psychology and neuroscience and the other based on a common classification problem for full-text searching. These data suggest that Chinese participants are more field dependent, American participants are less field dependent, and that these results may offer important clues about adapting search algorithms for global computing systems.

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