Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 231–244 | Cite as

Sidedness in Carrying Objects Other than Infants Resembles Sidedness in Infant Cradling: A Two Nation Study of Gender Differences

  • Lee Ellis
  • Siti Nor Awang
  • Stephanie Larkin
Original Paper


Studies have repeatedly documented that 60 to 80 % of adults cradle (or carry) infants on the left side of their bodies. However, very little is known about sidedness tendencies when carrying objects in general. The present naturalistic study examines sidedness among college students as they carried books and other “academic” objects on campus. Special attention was given to sidedness biases in the use of a cradling-like carrying style. Over 2,500 observations were made of non-infant object carrying by college students in Malaysia and the United States. In both countries, females used a cradling-like carrying style much more than did males, while males predominantly carried books beside the hip. Regarding sidedness, there were significant left sided biases in the use of a cradling-like style by females in both countries and by males in Malaysia. Other sidedness differences in object carrying were also found. The left sided bias in infant carrying documented in other studies roughly resembles what this study found regarding the carrying of objects bearing no resemblance to infants, especially by females. Theories for left sided biases in infant cradling need to account for why similar biases exist particularly among females when they are carrying inanimate objects.


Sidedness Infant cradling/carrying Cradling-like carrying style Sex differences Cross-cultural research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and SociologyUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Saddleback CollegeMission ViejoUSA

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