, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 227-249

Genetic and nongenetic influences on handedness

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A brief review of theories of the causes of handedness shows why the major determinant is probably accidental variation, modified in man by a genetic factor inducing dextral bias. Levy's (1976, 1977) criticisms of Annett (1973) are answered by a detailed consideration of Chamberlain's (1928) report and by the presentation of an alternative analysis of the Hull family data using a criterion more similar to that of Rife (1940). The revised analysis is incompatible with the Levy-Nagylaki (1972) model of the genetics of handedness. New data on family preferences in two further student samples support the Hull findings. Data on manual skill in families are more consistent with an accidental than with a polygenic origin of human variability in handedness.