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Mallory Weber, Hsin-Mei Sun; Effect of footedness on valence-space associations. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):575. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.575.
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According to the body-specificity hypothesis (Casasanto, 2009), people implicitly associate positive/negative valence with their dominant/non-dominant side. For example, right-handers tend to associate “good” with “right” and “bad” with “left,” whereas left-handers show the opposite pattern, associating “bad” with “right” and “good” with “left.” Such valence-space associations cannot be attributed to linguistic or cultural experience but rather to body-specific preferences (Casasanto, 2009). The present study aimed to extend previous research by investigating how foot preference affects the associations between valence and left-right foot space. Participants performed two simple motor tasks in which they used their hand (Task 1) and foot (Task 2) to move a monster cutout to one of the two boxes located to the left and right of a cartoon figure. Participants were told that the cartoon figure likes certain monsters and thinks they are good but dislikes other monsters and thinks they are bad. Additionally, participants were instructed to move the good monster to the box they thought best represented good things and the bad monster in the box that best represented bad things. The assignment of valence to different monsters and the order of tasks were counterbalanced across participants. In line with previous findings, our results showed that a majority (74%) of right-handers (N = 42) assigned the good monster to the right box in the hand task. Additionally, a majority (72%) of right-footers (N = 25) assigned the good monster to the right box in the foot task. However, the association of valence and left-right foot space was weak in participants with no foot preference (N = 17), with 58% of these participants moving the good monster to the right box using their foot. In sum, our results demonstrate an association between the dominant/non-dominant foot and positive/negative valence, supporting the body-specificity hypothesis.
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