-- I N T E R I M   R E P O R T --

Purpose of Study & Study Design

From 1996 to 2001, Dr. M.K. Holder collected data from an online Hand Preference Questionnaire (former location: http://www.indiana.edu/~primate/forms/hand.html ) for a study entitled "Hand Preference Questionnaires: One Gets What One Asks For". After 5 years of data collection, this version of the Hand Preference Questionnaire has been removed. Data are currently being analyzed. Results will be posted on the URL above in a few months. In the meantime, you may:  read about the study's purpose & design, help direct future research by responding to a brief survey, request notification of results be sent to your e-mail address, and/or view additional online handedness resources by M.K. Holder.


P U R P O S E   o f   t h e   S T U D Y

"Hand Preference Questionnaires: One Gets What One Asks For"

Determining the hand preferences of a subject/patient is important to psychologists, clinical neurologists, and research scientists because hand preference is considered a marker for cerebral hemispheric dominance for speech and language. However, after more than half a century of research, the literature describing human "handedness" is plagued with ambiguities and inconsistencies to the extent that basic questions remain unresolved. The most commonly used methodology for assessing a subject's hand preference has been, and continues to be, self-report inventories.

Holder's large online questionnaire incorported several popular hand preference inventories (Oldfield, Annett, and others) into it, making it possible to extract responses from the embeded inventories, score them according to their protocol, and compare the results. Such an exercise illustrates how research findings (distributions of "left-handedness") differ for the same population as a result of various aspects of methodological design.

This study systematical critiques hand preference questionnaire methodology by considering the impact of historical precedent, detailed issues of questionnaire design, test administration, criteria for hand preference and scoring systems, statistical analyses, and theoretical biases upon questionnaire findings.

Many participants noticed the serious problems inherent in the online questionnaire: questions were riddled with gender bias, cultural bias, impliment bias, etc. Such is the current state of commonly used hand preference questionnaires. By comparing responses to the biased questions with analogous non-biased questions, one can clearly demonstrate the impact these biases have on findings, and make strong arguments for the elimination of such questions from hand preference inventories. (Many of the participants also noted the bias in a self-selected, online study population itself:  this is not a random sample and should not be considered so.)

Those who participated in this research helped provide empirical support to many of the criticisms noted above, and these findings will help researchers improve methodology for measuring handedness. In the earliest version of this study, Holder (1992) concluded that: (1) The term "handedness" lacks a precise descriptive standard. (2) There is currently neither a means by which to empirically determine categories and/or degrees of "handedness". (3) Without a standard definition to qualify hand preference, and an empirically-based means to quantify hand preference, questionnaire design and analysis is based on generally accepted assumptions and theoretical hypotheses. (4) Seemingly innocuous aspects of questionnaire design, administration, and analyses (both singly and in concert) are capable of skewing a dataset in a predictable direction. (5) The condition exists whereby the "distribution" of a dataset may be partially predetermined, prior to testing, by the type of questionnaire, scoring systems and analysis chosen. (6) A reassessment of the use of the term "handedness" as a trait, and how it is best quantified, is called for. Holder (1999) proposes a new approach for future research into hand preference and lateralization.

T h a n k s   a g a i n   t o   t h e   t h o u s a n d s   w h o   p a r t i c i p a t e d

M.K. Holder, Ph.D.
Handedness Research Institute, Indiana University, USA
research & homework help  |  contact info

 Help direct future research by responding to a brief public interest survey
 Request notification of results be sent to your e-mail address

 Left-Handers in Society

 What Does Handedness Have to do with Brain Lateralization?

 Famous Left-Handers

 The World of Sinistral Subterfuge  (1996 Internet Underground column)

 Holder's 1997 Scientific American "Ask the Experts"

 Hand Preference Questionnaires: One Gets What One Asks For

 Primate Handedness & Brain Lateralization Research Site

Top Menu Famous Left-Handers Left-Handers in Society Primates at Home East Africa Brain Stuff MK's Shamba InfoBahn OffRamps kudos

http://www.indiana.edu/~primate/forms/debrief.html     © 1992-2005 M.K. Holder