Are there handedness differences in response to ambiguity and stereotype threat?

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters by Research


The thesis examined whether handedness influenced responses to ambiguity and stereotype threat. This was examined through two studies, the first examining handedness and ambiguity, and the second examining handedness and stereotype threat. In both studies, hand direction and strength were recorded using two versions of the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (Oldfield, 1971; Lyle et al., 2013). In Study 1, 114 participants were tested - 62 left-handers (32 consistent and 30 inconsistent) and 52 right-handers (25 consistent, 27 inconsistent). Participants completed an ambiguous stimulus task and were asked to indicate why they did or did not respond to the stimuli. In line with previous research conducted by Gordon and Rogers (2015), it was hypothesised that left-handers would be less likely to interact with the ambiguous stimuli and those who did react, would be slower to respond. Study 1 also examined interpretations of a series of homophones, and it was hypothesised that left-handers would be more likely to report the negative interpretations of these. None of the hypotheses were supported, but participants did indicate that their decisions on whether or not to respond to the ambiguous stimuli were driven by rules, and they highlighted they were surprised by the ambiguous stimuli. In study 2, participants took part in a stereotype threat task where either a stereotype threat, boost or neither were presented in relation to hand preference or hand strength in the task instructions. The instructions related to the Flanker task, which participants were subsequently asked to complete alongside a series of State Anxiety scales and the Personal Need for Structure Scale (PNS). 178 participants were tested, 88 left-handers (42 consistent, 46 inconsistent) and 90 right-handers (52 consistent, 38 inconsistent). It was predicted that left-handers and consistent-handers would show a greater increase in their state anxiety scores after reading the task instructions (compared to right-handers and inconsistent-handers, however, none of these were supported. A significant effect of handedness on the PNS scale in desire for change scores suggested inconsistent handers are more open to change than consistent handers. It is unclear if any of the handedness hypothesis were unsupported due to the lack of a true handedness effect or were due to possible methodological issues within the two studies. Implications for this are discussed along with recommendations for future research in this area.
Date of Award26 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorLynn Wright (Supervisor) & Scott Hardie (Supervisor)


  • Handedness
  • Anxiety
  • Ambiguity
  • Stereotype threat

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