Pause before you respond: handedness influences response style on the Tower of Hanoi task

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Comparative laterality research has indicated that marmoset monkeys with a right-hand preference take less time to respond to novel objects within a novel environment (Cameron & Rogers, 1999). This suggests that right hemisphere dominance may be associated with a more cautious cognitive style in novel situations. The present study tested this hypothesis using right- and left-handed human participants to complete a three-disk Tower of Hanoi (TOH) task. It was hypothesised that left-handers would be slower to initiate responding. A total of 84 participants (42 left-handers, 42 right-handers) took part and the time taken to make the first move, completion time, and the number of moves taken to complete the task were recorded. Analysis of Variance revealed a significant main effect of handedness, with left-handers taking longer to move the first disk and significantly fewer moves to complete the task. However, left-handers were not significantly faster at completing the TOH, although males completed the task more quickly than females. These initial findings support the hypothesis that left-hand dominance is associated with a more cautious cognitive style in novel problem-solving situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
JournalLaterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


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