According to the body-specificity hypothesis, hearing action words creates body-specific mental simulations of the actions. Handedness should, therefore, affect mental simulations. Given that pictures of actions also evoke mental simulations and often accompany words to be learned, would pictures that mismatch the mental simulation of words negatively affect learning? We investigated effects of pictures with a left-handed, right-handed, or bimanual perspective on left- and right-handers' learning of object-manipulation words in an artificial language. Right-handers recalled fewer definitions of words learned with a corresponding left-handed-perspective picture than with a right-handed-perspective picture. For left-handers, there was no effect of perspective. These findings suggest that mismatches between pictures and mental simulations evoked by hearing action words can negatively affect right-handers' learning. Left-handers, who encounter the right-handed perspective frequently, could presumably overcome the lack of motor experience with visual experience and, therefore, not be influenced by picture perspective.

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Psychological Science
Department of Psychology

de Nooijer, J., van Gog, T., Paas, F., & Zwaan, R. (2013). When Left Is Not Right: Handedness Effects on Learning Object-Manipulation Words Using Pictures With Left- or Right-Handed First-Person Perspectives. Psychological Science, 24(12), 2515–2521. doi:10.1177/0956797613498908