Kids who cradle dolls on their left side have better social and cognitive skills

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The next time your child reaches for her favourite doll, sneak a quick peek and see if she's got a right or left cradling bias. Now you must be thinking "whatever for?"

This newfound curiosity in mums is actually because of the latest study, which suggests left cradling bias in children is an indication of better cognitive abilities and social skills. This is regardless of whether or not the child is right or left hand dominant.

Researchers from the University of London did a study on a total of 98 four to five year olds in London recently.

They found that those who held the baby doll in a left-cradling position scored higher in social ability traits than their peers who carried the doll on their right side. They were able to follow rules better, more willing to share with others and please their teachers. 

Left Cradling Bias

The study stemmed from the previous knowledge of left cradling bias in mums because it enables mum and child to keep each other in their left visual field.

This is because “keeping a baby in the carer's left visual field allows for more efficient monitoring of the baby’s wellbeing,” said Dr Forrester PhD of Birkbeck, University of London.

During the study, when the children were given a blank pillow, there was no preference which arm they would choose. Then, a pillow with three dots drawn to suggest a face was given. Results showed that the children were more likely to cradle it like a baby on their left side. 

All the children were preschoolers, of which 54 were girls and the remaining 44 were boys. For some of these children, they may not have first-hand experience carrying an actual baby. Yet they instinctively demonstrated left cradling bias when a "face" was drawn on the pillow. That's really something!

Children with Left Cradling Bias are Sharper 

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Children were quick to make the association even when it was a simple three-dot design representing a face.

This is because our left visual field (connected to the right hemisphere), is faster and more accurate at identifying individuals and their emotional expressions than the right visual field for the majority of the population.

"This left-visual-field bias is a natural ability, thought to have originated from a need to identify predators in the environment. We believe that the left visual field bias for recognizing faces and expressions supports our sophisticated social and emotional abilities."

So why did children with left cradling bias score higher on social ability compared to those who chose their right? Dr Forester thinks it may be because there's an advantage to using the left visual field. It gives them optimal position for facial processing and social interaction.

Results showed the same patterns when the scientists gave the children an actual baby doll, too. Children with left cradling bias tended to follow instructions better and did as they were told. This then suggests that their social skills were better than their peers.

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I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to know whether your child is sharper than the rest. This is just one of them.

 

Source: Medical Express

Read also: Older dads have smarter sons, says study