Sidedness

Although everyone probably knows about the existence of handedness, most people are unaware of the fact that it is just one aspect of a group of lateral biases. In the same way that we are handed, we are also footed. One would demonstrate footedness in tasks such as habitually using the same foot to step on a bug or to kick a ball to hit a target. In footedness, humans also show a right-sided bias, with approximately 80-82% of the population being right-footed.

In addition to showing motor biases favoring one side, we also show sidedness in the use of our bilateral sense organs. We demonstrate eyedness by consistently choosing the same eye to sight down a telescope or to peep through a small hole. We would be showing earedness by usually choosing the same ear to listen to the faint ticking of a clock or to press against a door to hear noises on the other side. These manifestations of sidedness are also biased toward the right, although not as strongly as for hands and feet. Approximately 66-71% of the population is right-eyed, and 58-60% are right-eared.

Although it is clear that as a species we are right-sided, the specific proportions may vary from one study to another, depending on the particular definition used to define any aspect of sidedness. Thus, most researchers define the dominant hand as being the hand that people prefer to use for skilled tasks. Others may use the skill or strength of the hand as a measure. In addition, some researchers require consistent right-sided preference in all tasks for an individual to be classified as right-sided for that index, whereas others only require that a majority of responses show the dextral bias. One can usually tell when this latter definition is being used since the labels given for a particular aspect of sidedness might be "right-sided" versus "non-right-sided" as opposed to "right-sided" versus "left-sided"; however, regardless of the definitions or scoring procedures used, the predominance of right-sidedness in human populations is clear.

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