Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 233, Issue 2, pp 415–424 | Cite as

Both right- and left-handers show a bias to attend others’ right arm

  • Daniele Marzoli
  • Chiara Lucafò
  • Alessandra Pagliara
  • Romina Cappuccio
  • Alfredo Brancucci
  • Luca Tommasi
Research Article


The common-coding hypothesis suggests that the more similar an observed action is to the way the observer would perform it, the stronger is the ensuing activation of motor representations. Therefore, producing actions could prime perception so that observers would be particularly responsive to (i.e. biased to perceive) actions that are related to, and share features with, their own actions. If this similarity principle also applies to handedness, right- and left-handers should be more likely to perceive actions as performed with their dominant rather than non-dominant hand. In two experiments, participants were required to indicate the perceived orientation (front or back view) of pictures of ambiguous human silhouettes performing one-handed manual actions. Experiment 1, in which 300 right-handers and 60 left-handers reported the orientation of a single silhouette seen for as much as they wished, showed that participants perceived the figures more frequently in an orientation congruent with a movement performed with the right rather than the left hand. Experiment 2, in which 12 right-handers and 12 left-handers reported the orientation of 52 silhouettes seen for 300 ms, showed similar results when multiple responses per participant were collected rather than only one. Contrary to our expectations, no difference was observed between right- and left-handers, which might suggest an attentional bias towards the right arm of human bodies in both groups. Moreover, participants were more likely to perceive the figure as front-facing than as back-facing, possibly due to the greater adaptive relevance of approaching compared to receding individuals.


Common coding Handedness Human body Ambiguous figures Facing bias Perceptual frequency effect 

Supplementary material

221_2014_4124_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1536 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniele Marzoli
    • 1
  • Chiara Lucafò
    • 2
  • Alessandra Pagliara
    • 1
  • Romina Cappuccio
    • 1
  • Alfredo Brancucci
    • 1
  • Luca Tommasi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological Sciences, Humanities and TerritoryUniversity of ChietiChietiItaly
  2. 2.Department of Neurosciences, Imaging and Clinical SciencesUniversity of ChietiChietiItaly

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