Left-handers’ struggle in a rightward wor(l)d: The relation between horizontal spatial bias and effort in directed movements

Caterina Suitner, Anne Maass, Maria Laura Bettinsoli, Luciana Carraro, Serena Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Five studies investigated the role of handedness and effort in horizontal spatial bias related to agency (Spatial Agency Bias, SAB). A Pilot Study (n = 33) confirmed the basic assumption that rightward writing requires greater effort from left- than from right-handers. In three studies, Italian students (n = 591 right-handed, n = 115 left-handed) were found to start drawings on the left, proceeding rightward (Study 1a, 1b), and to draw moving objects with a rightward orientation in line with script direction (Study 1c). These spatial asymmetries were displayed stronger by left- than by right-handed primacy school children, arguably due to the greater effort involved in learning how to write in a rightward fashion. Once writing has become fully automatic (high school) right- and left-handed students showed comparable spatial bias (Study 1c). The hypothesized role of effort was tested explicitly in Study 2 in which 99 right-handed adults learned a new (leftward) spatial trajectory through an easy or difficult motor exercise. The habitual rightward bias was reliably reduced, especially among those who performed a difficult task requiring greater effort. Together, findings are largely in line with the body specificity hypothesis (Casasanto, 2011) and suggest that spatial asymmetries are learned and unlearned most efficiently through effortful motor exercises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-89
Number of pages30
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • asymmetry
  • body specificity
  • Handedness
  • horizontal spatial bias
  • script direction
  • visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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