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A study to determine whether visual stimuli are associated with responses to …

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Results and Discussion
- The Influence of Visual Stimuli in Ethnobotanical Data Collection Using the Listing Task Method

Of the 400 women interviewed, approximately 55% were 20 to 39 years old, with others ranging from 40 to 65. Approximately 30% had completed eighth grade; 38.5% had graduated from high school; and 31% had more than 12 years of schooling. Only two interviewees were illiterate. Sixty-five percent of respondents reported never having lived in a rural area, while 35% reported having had that life experience.

The Influence of Visual Stimuli

1. Comparison between locales. The mean number of citations per interview in each location was 4.92 plants in the plant store, 4.9 in the supermarket, and 4.76 in the public garden for the short lists (five citations). For the long lists (ten citations), the mean was 9.16 plants in the plant store, 9.46 in the supermarket, 8.92 in the public garden, and 8.87 in the control location. Fourteen percent of informants failed to cite the total number of names requested, claiming they were unable to remember, did not know, or were in a hurry.

The percentages of plants cited that were present within the interviewee’s field of vision or the surroundings where the interview was being conducted were highest in the plant store: 91% and 95% of the short and the long lists, respectively. In the other locations, the indices were lower, reaching 36% and 26% in the public garden and 58% and 52% in the supermarket (Table 1). In general, there is a significant difference between the locations studied in the number of plants cited that are within the field of vision, the surroundings, or both for both the long and the short list. In relation to the control location, the plant store presented the largest difference, followed by the supermarket and public garden. The comparison between the plant store, supermarket, and public garden also showed greater influence of the local environment in the plant store. The differences between the interview locales are, in general, more accentuated for the long lists than for the short lists (Table 1).

Regarding the four categories of plants considered, a significant association was found for the short lists (χ2 = 82.10; p

The apparently greater influence of visual stimuli in the plant store (on naming ornamental plants) and in the supermarket (on naming food plants) may be explained by the predominance of ornamental and food plants in the two locales. However, we cannot disregard the possible influence of the objective of a respondent’s visit to a plant store or a supermarket, nor can we rule out the effect of some plants’ being better known by name than others. In the first instance, having certain things in mind during the shopping experience must also be controlled for in further experiments. In the second, previous knowledge of names of plants would have to be controlled.

2. The plants cited most often. The ten most cited plants on the short and long lists, with the respective number of citations in each location, are shown in Figures 1 and 2. All are considered ornamental plants. Among them, the rose, orchid, fern, violet, and daisy are most consistently remembered by respondents in all locations and for both lists. We conclude that these are the most culturally important for the population interviewed. Looking at just these five plants, there were no significant differences in numbers of citations of ferns between the locations for either list. In the short list, the only significant difference was for the violet, cited more often in the plant store than in the public garden (χ2 = 4.04; p

As already mentioned, ornamental plants appear to be more relevant in the urban culture. Studies in the same region, using other methods, have produced findings that support those reported here. For example, the predominance of ornamental plants compared to edible and medicinal plants was reported by Eichemberg (2003) in a study about the characterization of old urban yards in Rio Claro, with 63% of the plants found being ornamental. In another study about diversity and use of plants in yards in Rio Claro (Fox 1999), the predominance of ornamental plants was also observed. There are various explanations for the preference for ornamental plants, such as the reduction in space of urban residences (which restricts the cultivation and presence of plants), the ready availability of commercial food and medicinal products, and the insertion of women into the workforce.

3. List size and order of citation of the items. A comparison of short and long lists in each locale provided no conclusive results. In the plant store, there is a tendency toward a significantly greater influence of the environment on the responses to the long lists. In the public garden and the supermarket, however, there is the opposite tendency, with responses to short lists appearing to be more influenced by the surroundings (Table 4). Nor was there a correlation, in any of the three locales with plants, between the proportion of plants cited that were present in the environment and the order in which they were cited (Pearson correlation coefficient p > .05).

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