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Handedness and eye preference correlates with academic ability

1 May 1999


Ever since Orton's work in the 1920's, handedness and eye preference have been studied as possible predictive factors for patients and students with learning disabilities. The present study was undertaken to clarify some of the recent research in this area, and to attempt to establish the statistical validity in a non-random sample of graduate students. A 25-question survey was developed to characterize handedness and eye preference at near and far, with the goal of comparing these to standardized test scores in eight academic subject areas. 400 surveys were distributed for self-reporting of handedness and eye preference. The survey was a combination of a proven handedness inventory, classic eye preference questions for sighting eye preference at far, and newly developed questions on near eye preference. Of the original 400 surveys, 199 were used for this study. 103 of these were completed by females, 96 by males. This was a return rate of 51% and is considered respectable for comparable surveys. The subjects surveyed were in the age range 20 to 45 with a mean age of 26. 54% were male and 46% female in the surveyed population. The survey results were tabulated using a modified version of the Oldfield's established technique. The individual surveys were then linked to each subject's Optometry Admission Test (OAT) scores in a non-name identifiable manner. The handedness, eye preference and OAT score data were examined using the appropriate T-Test to compare the means for significance. Gender was separated from the other variables in order to eliminate spurious results. After comparing all groups, there was one significantly different OAT subscore. Left-eyed males at far and near (n=26 and n=21, respectively) had significantly higher quantitative reasoning (math) scores than the right-eyed males (n=67 and n=69). These differences were significant to the p=O.OS level using a T-Test for small number statistics. The means of the scores differed by approximately 20 points between the two groups (345 vs. 325 and 347 vs. 324). No statistically significant correlations were found between OAT scores and handedness, crossed hand-eye dominance, mixed handedness (ambidextrality), extreme dextrality, mixed eye preference or refractive error. However, implications of this project and future research are discussed.


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