Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Casasanto and Henetz: "Handedness Shapes Children's Abstract Concepts" (2011)

This article by Daniel Casasanto and Tania Henetz shows a difference in the bodily experience which is not mirrored in speech. From the abstract:
In one experiment, children indicated where on a diagram a preferred toy and a dispreferred toy should go. Right-handers tended to assign the preferred toy to a box on the right and the dispreferred toy to a box on the left. Left-handers showed the opposite pattern. In a second experiment, children judged which of two cartoon animals looked smarter (or dumber) or nicer (or meaner). Right-handers attributed more positive qualities to animals on the right, but left-handers to animals on the left. These contrasting associations between space and valence cannot be explained by exposure to language or cultural conventions, which consistently link right with good.
The article also quotes some other very interesting studies Casasanto has done with other coworkers.

These studies show that adult subjects have the same tendency to biased towards their dominant side, as shown for instance in an analysis of the gestures that four presidential candidates made during two debates (p. 2).

Further, this tendency can be temporarily reversed by handicapping the subjects' dominant hand with an annoying ski glove (pp. 9-10).

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