Elections in the Garden of Good and Evil
Why right-handed people think left-handed people are evil.
In a paper published this week by open-access journal PLoS ONE, Max Plank Institutue researchers Daniel Casasanto and Kyle Jasmin looked at the association between politicians' hand gestures and the content of their speeches. After examining more than 3000 spoken clauses and 1700 hand gestures from John Kerry and George W. Bush in the 2004 election, and Barack Obama and John McCain in the 2008 election, they had ample evidence of a pattern: When discussing something positive, right-handers Kerry and Bush most often gestured with their right hands, while southpaws Obama and McCain both used their lefts. And the opposite held as well: If Obama was saying something negative, then, he was more likely use his right hand; Bush used his left. The researchers noted one particularly intriguing application for their findings:
"The hand that speakers use for spontaneous gestures provides an index of their feelings about the content of the co-occurring speech. If listeners can track which hand a speaker uses to gesture, they may be able to receive subtle clues to the speaker's attitude toward the things they are talking about—albeit the clues are statistical, not absolute, and the listener must know the speaker's handedness to interpret them."