August 2009
Volume 9, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2009
Right-side walking bias is additive for approaching pedestrians
Author Affiliations
  • Michael McBeath
    Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Gerard Petit
    Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Steven Holloway
    Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Journal of Vision August 2009, Vol.9, 1127. doi:
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      Michael McBeath, Gerard Petit, Steven Holloway; Right-side walking bias is additive for approaching pedestrians. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):1127.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Previous research has confirmed that American and right-handed pedestrians exhibit a bias to turn right, whereas British and left-handers are relatively more likely to turn left. The present study tests if these same populations exhibit similar walking-side biases when racing around either a stationary obstacle or another passing pedestrian. We also examined if the solo walking-side bias increases in an additive manner in the case of two approaching pedestrians, and if these changes are consistent with individual biases associated with driving-side training and handedness. Right and left handed British and American pedestrians were tested in both Great Britain and America, racing either alone around an obstacle, or in pairs against each other. Our results revealed a robust overall right-side navigational bias, with Americans and right-handers exhibiting this bias most strongly, and the British and lefties less so. When approaching pairs raced each other, the right-side bias generally increased consistent with an additive function of bias. This appears to be a classic example in which weaker individual biases accumulate to create a stronger group bias. In the case of the Americans, the combination of their right-side driving training and the preponderance of right-handedness led to a 90% tendency to stay to the right when alone, and nearly 100% when approaching other Americans. This rate was progressively less to the right-side when Americans raced British, and further reduced when British raced other British, but even then, a right-sided preference prevailed. We found no main effects for locomotion-side due to eye-dominance, though there is some suggestion for higher-order interactions related to this variable. Consistent with prior research, these results support the notion that walking side is a function of both innate handedness and learned behavioral habits (nature and nurture), but with an overall right-side locomotive dominance that increases when pedestrians interact with others.

McBeath, M. Petit, G. Holloway, S. (2009). Right-side walking bias is additive for approaching pedestrians [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 9(8):1127, 1127a,, doi:10.1167/9.8.1127. [CrossRef]
 NSF Grants BCS-0318313 and CISE-0403428

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