Cognitive Science 36 (2):359-372 (2012)

Can children’s handedness influence how they represent abstract concepts like kindness and intelligence? Here we show that from an early age, right-handers associate rightward space more strongly with positive ideas and leftward space with negative ideas, but the opposite is true for left-handers. 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. Rather, right- and left-handers implicitly associated positive valence more strongly with the side of space on which they can act more fluently with their dominant hands. Results support the body-specificity hypothesis (Casasanto, 2009), showing that children with different kinds of bodies think differently in corresponding ways
Keywords Space  Concepts  Handedness  Emotional valence  Embodied cognition  Metaphor  Cognitive development
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2011.01199.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,393
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Origin of Concepts.Susan Carey - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Perceptual Symbol Systems.Lawrence W. Barsalou - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):577-660.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Handedness, Self-Models and Embodied Cognitive Content.Holger Lyre - 2008 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (4):529–538.
Natural Number and Natural Geometry.Elizabeth S. Spelke - 2011 - In Stanislas Dehaene & Elizabeth Brannon (eds.), Space, Time and Number in the Brain. Oxford University Press. pp. 287--317.
The Primacy of Virtue in Children's Moral Development.Daniel Putman - 1995 - Journal of Moral Education 24 (2):175-183.
Incongruent Counterparts and the Reality of Space.Graham Nerlich - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (3):598-613.


Added to PP index

Total views
93 ( #115,775 of 2,448,957 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #96,874 of 2,448,957 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes