Holder, M.K.  1992.  Hand Preference Questionnaires: One Gets What One Asks For M.Phil. thesis, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Abstract of the Thesis:

Determining the hand preferences of a subject/patient is important to many psychologists and clinical neurologists 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.

This thesis offers a systematic critique of 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. In addition, a small study was conducted which lends empirical support to some of the criticisms offered.

The following conclusions were made: (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. Finally, a new approach is proposed for future research into hand preference and lateralization.

© 1992-2009 M.K. Holder. All rights reserved worldwide.

Note:  A copy of this M.Phil. thesis is on file in the Rutgers University Library of Science and Medicine located on the Busch Campus (Piscatoway, New Jersey, USA), and should be available via inter-library loan request. A copy is also on file in the Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, Douglass Campus, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

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Hand Preference Questionnaires: One Gets What One Asks For