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Durham e-Theses
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Hand preference and spatial ability: a study of performance in spatially demanding occupations

Wood, Charles J. (1989) Hand preference and spatial ability: a study of performance in spatially demanding occupations. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Widely cited studies report an excess of left-handers among top athletes (tennis players, cricketers, and fencers) and architects. These findings are seen as being consistent with the influential theories of Annett (1985) and Geschwind and Galaburda (1985a, 1985b, 1985c) which predict that left handers are over-represented in activities making heavy demands on spatial abilities. This present research reexamined the proportion of left-handers in both sport and architecture. The analyses of sport only found evidence for an excess of left-handers among cricket bowlers and tennis players and among this latter group the effect was highly capricious. In both sports the rarer left-handers enjoys tactical advantages; there is no need to invoke neurological explanations. Among the other groups of top athletes examined: soccer goalkeepers, cricket batsmen, ten-pin bowlers, snooker and darts players, and golfers, no evidence was found of an excess of left-handers. Similarly, an analysis of a large group of practicing architects failed to reveal an abnormal proportion of left-handers. As handedness data was obtained from the architects and the soccer goalkeepers using a mail survey an additional study was undertaken to determine whether a mail survey is a valid method of collecting handedness data. This survey failed to find any systematic bias between those who do and do not reply. Thus the findings for goalkeepers and architects are strengthened. Although this present research cannot rule out the possibility that some left-handed linked advantage in spatial advantages may exist, it nevertheless raises doubts whether these earlier studies substantiate its existence.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1989
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Feb 2013 13:40

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