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J Sports Sci. 2012;30(5):507-13. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.654811. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Human handedness in interactive situations: Negative perceptual frequency effects can be reversed!

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Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Muenster, M√ľnster, Germany.


Left-handed performers seem to enjoy an advantage in interactive sports. Researchers suggest this is predominantly due to the relative scarcity of left-handers compared with right-handers. Such negative frequency-dependent advantages are likely to appear in inefficient game-play behaviour against left-handed opponents such as reduced ability to correctly anticipate left-handers' action intentions. We used a pre-post retention design to test whether such negative frequency-dependent perceptual effects can be reversed via effective training. In a video-based test, 30 handball novices anticipated the shot outcome of temporally occluded handball penalties thrown by right- and left-handed players. Between the pre- and post-tests, participants underwent a perceptual training programme to improve prediction accuracy, followed by an unfilled retention test one week later. Participants were divided into two hand-specific training groups (i.e. only right- or left-handed shots were presented during training) and a mixed group (i.e. both right- and left-handed shots were presented). Our results support the negative frequency-dependent advantage hypothesis, as hand-specific perceptual training led to side-specific improvement of anticipation skills. Similarly, findings provide experimental evidence to support the contention that negatively frequency-dependent selection mechanisms contributed to the maintenance of the handedness polymorphism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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