Is a Maturational Lag Associated with Left-Handedness? A Research Note


Request for reprints to: W. Eaton, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2 (Email: Warren_Eaton@Umanitoba.CA.).


One element of Coren and Halpera's controversial theory [Psychological Bulletin, 109, 90-106 (1991)] that left-handedness is associated with shorter lifespans is the hypothesis that sinistrality is accompanied by a developmental lag. Perinatal traumas could interfere with the normal developmental shift to right-sided lateral preferences during childhood, leading to an association between maturational lag and left-handedness. In a test of this hypothesis, we assessed current stature, predicted adult stature and relative stature, an index of physical maturity, for elementary school-aged children in three separate, large-sample studies. No relations between hand preference and the three measures of physical status were found. Repeated failures to confirm the hypothesis with pre-adolescent samples raise serious doubt about the viability of the left-handed developmental lag hypothesis.