+ Site Statistics
+ Search Articles
+ PDF Full Text Service
How our service works
Request PDF Full Text
+ Follow Us
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Twitter
Follow on LinkedIn
+ Subscribe to Site Feeds
Most Shared
PDF Full Text
+ Translate
+ Recently Requested

Left preference for sport tasks does not necessarily indicate left-handedness: sport-specific lateral preferences, relationship with handedness and implications for laterality research in behavioural sciences

Left preference for sport tasks does not necessarily indicate left-handedness: sport-specific lateral preferences, relationship with handedness and implications for laterality research in behavioural sciences

Plos One 9(8): E105800

In the elite domain of interactive sports, athletes who demonstrate a left preference (e.g., holding a weapon with the left hand in fencing or boxing in a 'southpaw' stance) seem overrepresented. Such excess indicates a performance advantage and was also interpreted as evidence in favour of frequency-dependent selection mechanisms to explain the maintenance of left-handedness in humans. To test for an overrepresentation, the incidence of athletes' lateral preferences is typically compared with an expected ratio of left- to right-handedness in the normal population. However, the normal population reference values did not always relate to the sport-specific tasks of interest, which may limit the validity of reports of an excess of 'left-oriented' athletes. Here we sought to determine lateral preferences for various sport-specific tasks (e.g., baseball batting, boxing) in the normal population and to examine the relationship between these preferences and handedness. To this end, we asked 903 participants to indicate their lateral preferences for sport-specific and common tasks using a paper-based questionnaire. Lateral preferences varied considerably across the different sport tasks and we found high variation in the relationship between those preferences and handedness. In contrast to unimanual tasks (e.g., fencing or throwing), for bimanually controlled actions such as baseball batting, shooting in ice hockey or boxing the incidence of left preferences was considerably higher than expected from the proportion of left-handedness in the normal population and the relationship with handedness was relatively low. We conclude that (i) task-specific reference values are mandatory for reliably testing for an excess of athletes with a left preference, (ii) the term 'handedness' should be more cautiously used within the context of sport-related laterality research and (iii) observation of lateral preferences in sports may be of limited suitability for the verification of evolutionary theories of handedness.

Please choose payment method:

(PDF emailed within 1 workday: $29.90)

Accession: 054098118

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25141020

Related references

Increased occurrence of left-handedness after severe childhood bacterial meningitis: support for the pathological left-handedness hypothesis. Neuropsychologia 44(12): 2526-2532, 2006

Handedness and language among the mentally retarded: implications for the model of pathological left-handedness and gender differences in hemispheric specialization. Neuropsychologia 27(5): 713-723, 1989

Mixed lateral preference and parental left-handedness: possible markers of risk for PTSD. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 191(5): 332-338, 2003

Birth order and left-handedness revisited: Some recent findings in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and their implications for developmental and evolutionary models of human handedness. Neuropsychologia 38(12): 1626-1633, 2000

The correlates of left-handedness: moderating variables in the epidemiology of left-handedness. Annals of Epidemiology 7(3): 165-166, 1997

Pathological left-handedness. Left-handedness correlatives in adult epileptics. Brain 116: 1565-1574, 1993

Patterns of handedness and footedness in switched and nonswitched Brazilian left-handers: cultural effects on the development of lateral preferences. Developmental Neuropsychology 31(2): 159-179, 2007

Left handedness in an identical twin discordant to his co-twin for handedness and schizophrenia, with neurological and psychometric evidence of left hemisphere damage. Postgraduate Medical Journal 66(773): 224-226, 1990

Left-handedness and laterality in pilot. Evrard, E et al, Eds Medical aspects of flight safety p 262-272, 1959

Beyond handedness: assessing younger adults and older people lateral preference in six laterality dimensions. Laterality 2018: 1-13, 2018

Laterality: exploring the enigma of left-handedness. Laterality 22(1): 120-122, 2016

Left-handedness and crossed laterality in school children. Military Medicine 147(6): 468-470, 1982

Inflammatory bowel disease and laterality Is left-handedness a risk?. Gut 46(11): A9, 2000

Inflammatory bowel disease and laterality: is left handedness a risk?. Gut 49(2): 199-202, 2001

Cognitive abilities and left handedness an interaction between familial sinistrality and strength of handedness. Intelligence 8(4): 295-304, 1984