When left means right: an explanation of the left cradling bias in terms of right hemisphere specializations


Victoria J. Bourne, Department of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK; e-mail: victoria@sussex.ac.uk


Previous research has indicated that 70–85% of women and girls show a bias to hold infants, or dolls, to the left side of their body. This bias is not matched in males (e.g. deChateau, Holmberg & Winberg, 1978; Todd, 1995). This study tests an explanation of cradling preferences in terms of hemispheric specialization for the perception of facial emotional expression. Thirty-two right-handed participants were given a behavioural test of lateralization and a cradling task. Females, but not males, who cradled a doll on the left side were found to have significantly higher laterality quotients than right cradlers. Results indicate that women cradle on the side of the body that is contralateral to the hemisphere dominant for face and emotion processing and suggest a possible explanation of gender differences in the incidence of cradling.