Do cerebral motivational asymmetries mediate the relationship between handedness and personality?

Katie B. Huber, Chad J. Marsolek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Handedness has long been tied to personality, but detailed explanations for the association are lacking. Importantly for purposes of theory development, measures of approach and withdrawal associated with Big Five personality traits have also been traced back to activity in brain areas that relate to handedness. Specifically, increased right-hemisphere frontal activity appears to be linked to both withdrawal motivation and left/inconsistent-handedness, while increased left-hemisphere frontal activity is associated with approach motivation and right/consistent-handedness. Cerebral motivational asymmetries therefore present one plausible mechanism by which approach and withdrawal motivation could mediate the relationship between handedness and personality. We tested this possibility in a large online study (N = 499) in which participants completed multiple survey measures. Results indicated that approach/withdrawal motivation partially accounts for relationships between handedness and personality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-56
Number of pages36
Issue number1
Early online dateJul 8 2021
StatePublished - Jul 8 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The findings reported here are part of a doctoral dissertation. The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in OSF at The authors would like to thank Colin DeYoung for his contributions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Big Five
  • Handedness
  • approach/withdrawal
  • hemispheric asymmetries
  • personality

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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