International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 851-866

First online:

On the Other Hand: Statistical Issues in the Assessment and Interpretation of Hand Preference Data in Nonhuman Primates

  • William D. HopkinsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Berry CollegeLiving Links Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution, Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University Email author 

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I describe methodological and statistical issues in the assessment of hand preference in nonhuman primates and discuss them in the context of a recent paper by McGrew and Marchant (1997) in which they conclude that there is no convincing evidence of population-level hand preferences in nonhuman primates. The criteria used by them to evaluate individual and population-level hand preferences are flawed, which results in an oversimplification of findings in nonhuman primates. I further argue that the classification schema used by McGrew and Marchant (1997) to compare hand preference distributions between species is theoretically weak and does not offer a meaningful way to compare human and nonhuman primate handedness.

chimpanzees hand preference statistics research methods