The Pen Is Not Always Mightier: Different Ways of Measuring Handedness With the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory Yield Different Handedness Conclusions

Percept Mot Skills. 2020 Oct;127(5):789-802. doi: 10.1177/0031512520927562. Epub 2020 Jun 2.


Although consistency of handedness (the strength of dominant hand preference) is increasingly recognized as an important individual difference, there are questions about how to best measure it. A recent meta-analysis showed that researchers have often failed to report details of responses and response formats to handedness test items. In addition to measuring handedness direction (i.e., left versus right handedness), there can be utility to dichotomizing the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (EHI) into consistent and inconsistent dominant handedness, despite controversy over the best means of doing so. In this study, we performed a discriminant function analysis of EHI items to determine which items best predicted handedness consistency versus handedness direction. Although the same discriminant function accounted for most of the variance for both dependent measures, writing and drawing EHI items were the strongest predictors of handedness direction and combing and opening jars items were the strongest predictors of handedness consistency. As different items on the EHI predicted these different handedness dimensions, we discuss the implications of dichotomizing EHI items into both relevant dimensions for both biological and environmental theories of the basis of handedness and for future handedness research.

Keywords: Edinburgh Handedness Inventory; handedness; handedness consistency; handedness direction; lateral dominance.

MeSH terms

  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Writing*