The effect of handedness on academic ability: A multivariate linear mixed model approach

Christopher P. Cheyne, Neil Roberts, Tim J. Crow, Stuart J. Leask, Marta Garcia-Finana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years questions have arisen about whether there are any links between handedness and academic abilities as well as other factors. In this study we investigate the effects of gender, writing hand, relative hand skill, and UK region on mathematics and reading test scores by applying a multivariate linear mixed-effects model. A data sample based on 11,847 11-year-old pupils across the UK from the National Child Development Study was considered for the analysis. Our results show that pupils who write with one hand while having better skill with their other hand (i.e., inconsistent writing hand and superior hand) obtained lower test scores in both reading and mathematics than pupils with consistent writing hand and superior hand. Furthermore, we confirm previous findings that degree of relative hand skill has a significant effect on both reading and maths scores and that this association is not linear. We also found higher scores of reading in children from the south of England, and of mathematics in children from the south of England and Scotland, when compared to other UK regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-464
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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