Leftward spatial bias in children's drawing placement: hemispheric activation versus directional hypotheses

Laterality. 2014;19(1):96-112. doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2013.777072. Epub 2013 Mar 20.


A leftward spatial bias in drawing placement was demonstrated by Heller (1991) using the draw-a-person test with right-handed American children. No such bias was observed in left-handed children who are assumed to be less lateralised than their right-handed peers. According to Heller the leftward spatial bias is primarily a reflection of the right hemisphere specialisation for spatial processing. However, an alternative explanation in terms of directional trends may be put forward. In the present study we first confirm Heller's findings of a handedness effect on drawing placement using the draw-a-tree task with a large sample of right- and left-handed French children aged 5-15 years (Exp. 1). We then provide evidence that a similar leftward bias occurs in right-handed Moroccan children aged 7-11 years with opposite script directionality and opposite preferred drawing movement directions (i.e., right-to-left directional trends) to the those of right-handed French children (Exp. 2). Taken together these findings suggest that directionality trends arising from learned cultural habits and motor preferences play little role in determining spatial bias in the centring of a single object drawn on a page. Rather there may be a cerebral origin for drawing single objects slightly on the left side of the graphic space.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bias*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • France
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morocco
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*