Re: Gender and Cognitive Style

Michael Lorrey (
Sat, 21 Nov 1998 13:07:02 -0500

Patrick Wilken wrote:

> >I would say that since women have a dominant right brain, while men are
> >dominant left,
> How do you come at this? I wasn't aware there was any good evidence
> differences in lateralization between men and women that contributed to
> cognitive style. While the brain clearly processes different sorts of
> information in different hemispheres I don't think there is any evidence
> that would allow you to attribute broad cognitive styles to a dominance in
> one or other hemisphere. I would be interested if you have any references
> that support this view.
> As a side note: I have a friend who's Honours thesis in psychology involved
> looking at which side of the body infants were held. It turns out that
> about 70% of people hold their infants on the left and this occurs
> cross-culturally. It even occurs if you give people dolls to hold, but not
> other similarly weighted objects like large ball or pillow. In fact
> whether you hold a doll on your leftside is predictive of whether you want
> to have children. It has nothing to do with handness (lefthanders show the
> same bias) and does not appear to be related to putting the infant near the
> heart-beat. The best explanation I have come across is that emotional
> processing is laterized in the brain and argues that positive emotion is
> predominantly (completely?) processed in the right hemisphere (where the
> left visual field is processed). So there are weird differences in terms of
> laterization, but I am not sure there is any evidence that sex affects
> laterization.

Here's a better explaination, as far as I can tell: evolution. Since there is a greater percentage who are right handed, then a primitive human or hominid would want to hold an infant on the left to leave the right hand free to hold a rock, spear, or other weapon. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of people and apes will hold a baby on the non-dominant side to leave the dominant hand free, whether the individual is right or left handed.

Mike Lorrey

> best, patrick
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Patrick Wilken
> Editor: PSYCHE: An International Journal of Research on Consciousness
> Secretary: The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness