Sunday, February 19, 2012

Left Leaning

A fascinating study.

From New Scientist...
If something has gone down in your estimation, check your stance. Leaning to the left encourages people to underestimate everything from the height of buildings to the number of Michael Jackson chart-toppers.

To find out whether body positions influence value estimation, researchers asked 33 people to guess the numerical answer to questions while stood on a Wii-console balance board. A third of the questions were asked while the volunteers were perfectly upright. The rest of the questions were asked when - unbeknownst to the volunteers - the board was altered so that it would give a "perfectly balanced" readout only if volunteers tilted slightly to either the left or right.

When Eerland's team compared the answers given by participants they found that, on average, people made smaller estimates when they were tilted to the left. The finding appears to tally with mental number line theory, which supposes that people who read from left to right mentally represent smaller numbers on the left. A different effect among people from cultures that count from right to left would be expected.

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