Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Left-handed? Different bodies, different minds

Date:
February 14, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, absorbing information, weighing it carefully, and making thoughtful decisions. But, as it turns out, we're kidding ourselves. Over the past few decades, scientists have shown there are many different internal and external factors influencing how we think, feel, communicate, and make decisions at any given moment. One particularly powerful influence may be our own bodies, according to new research.

We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, absorbing information, weighing it carefully, and making thoughtful decisions. But, as it turns out, we're kidding ourselves. Over the past few decades, scientists have shown there are many different internal and external factors influencing how we think, feel, communicate, and make decisions at any given moment.

One particularly powerful influence may be our own bodies, according to new research reviewed in the December issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Cognitive scientist Daniel Casasanto, of The New School for Social Research, has shown that quirks of our bodies affect our thinking in predictable ways, across many different areas of life, from language to mental imagery to emotion.

People come in all different shapes and sizes, and people with different kinds of bodies think differently -- an idea Casasanto has termed the 'body-specificity hypothesis.'

One way our bodies appear to shape our decision-making is through handedness. Casasanto and his colleagues explored whether being right-handed or left-handed might influence our judgments about abstract ideas like value, intelligence, and honesty.

Through a series of experiments, they found that, in general, people tend to prefer the things that they encounter on the same side as their dominant hand. When participants were asked which of two products to buy, which of two job applicants to hire, or which of two alien creatures looked more trustworthy, right-handers routinely chose the product, person, or creature they saw on the right side of the page, while left-handers preferred the one on the left. These kinds of preferences have been found in children as young as 5 years old.

But why should our handedness matter when it comes to making such abstract evaluations? It all comes down to fluency, according to Casasanto. "People like things better when they are easier to perceive and interact with," he says. Right-handers interact with their environment more easily on the right than on the left, so they come to associate 'good' with 'right' and 'bad' with 'left.'

This preference for things on our dominant side isn't set in stone. Right-handers who've had their right hands permanently handicapped start to associate 'good' with 'left.' The same goes for righties whose 'good' hand is temporarily handicapped in the laboratory, Casasanto and colleagues found. "After a few minutes of fumbling with their right hand, righties start to think like lefties," says Casasanto. "If you change people's bodies, you change their minds."

It's clear that this association has implications beyond the laboratory. The body-specificity hypothesis may even play a role in voting behavior -- Casasanto points out that many states still use butterfly ballots, with candidates' names listed on the left and right.

"Since about 90 percent of the population is right-handed," says Casasanto, "people who want to attract customers, sell products, or get votes should consider that the right side of a page or a computer screen might be the 'right' place to be."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Casasanto. Different Bodies, Different Minds: The Body Specificity of Language and Thought. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (6): 378 DOI: 10.1177/0963721411422058

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Left-handed? Different bodies, different minds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120214171121.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, February 14). Left-handed? Different bodies, different minds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120214171121.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Left-handed? Different bodies, different minds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120214171121.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins