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Front Psychol. 2014 Feb 18;5:82. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00082. eCollection 2014.

Hand preference, performance abilities, and hand selection in children.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo Waterloo, ON, Canada.
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University Waterloo, ON, Canada.


It is widely know that the pattern of human handedness is such that approximately 90% of the population is right handed with the remainder being left handed, at least in the adult population. What is less well understood is how handedness develops and at what age adult-like handedness patterns emerge. Quantified in terms of both preference and performance, a plethora of different behavioral assessments are currently in use with both children and adults. Handedness questionnaires are commonly used; however, these possess inherent limitations, considering their subjective nature. Hand performance measures have also been implemented; however, such tasks appear to measure different components of handedness. In addition to these traditional measures, handedness has been successfully assessed through observation of hand selection in reaching, which has proven to be a unique and effective manner in understanding the development of handedness in children. Research over the past several decades has demonstrated that young children display weak, inconsistent hand preference tendencies and are slower with both hands. Performance differences between the hands are larger for young children, and consistency improves with age. However, there remains some controversy surrounding the age at which hand preference and hand performance abilities can be considered fully developed. The following paper will provide a review of the literature pertaining to hand preference, performance abilities and hand selection in children in an attempt to ascertain the age at which adult-like patterns of hand preference and performance emerge.


hand selection; handedness; performance; preference; reaching

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