In one ear…

If somebody ripped off your copy of Naturwissenschafte, let me help you out with the top story:


Hemispheric asymmetries and side biases have been studied in humans mostly in laboratory settings, and evidence obtained in naturalistic settings is scarce. We here report the results of three studies on human ear preference observed during social interactions in noisy environments, i.e., discotheques. In the first study, a spontaneous right-ear preference was observed during linguistic exchange between interacting individuals. This lateral bias was confirmed in a quasi-experimental study in which a confederate experimenter evoked an ear-orienting response in bystanders, under the pretext of approaching them with a whispered request. In the last study, subjects showed a greater proneness to meet an experimenter’s request when it was directly addressed to the right rather than the left ear. Our findings are in agreement both with laboratory studies on hemispheric lateralization for language and approach/avoidance behavior in humans and with animal research. The present work is one of the few studies demonstrating the natural expression of hemispheric asymmetries, showing their effect in everyday human behavior.

Sorry. I spilled coffee on the News Cut AcademicSpeak-O-Meter this morning and it hasn’t been working quite right. Let’s try this again.


You’re in a loud and sweaty Italian dance club when a woman approaches you. To be heard over the techno, she leans in close and yells into your ear, “Hai una sigaretta?”

If she spoke into your right ear, you would be twice as likely to give her a cigarette than if she asked by your left ear, according to a new study that employed this methodology in the clubs of Pescara, Italy. Of 88 clubbers who were approached on the right, 34 let the researcher bum a smoke, compared with 17 of 88 whom she approached on the left.

You have to love science. This is the latest study to show that the brain translates things uttered into your right ear differently than your left ear.

  • http://www.lungmn.org Bob Moffitt

    Even if she was a supermodel, that woman isn’t going to get a cigarette from ME, Bob (grin).

    Besides, it’s a moot point. Italy has had a nationwide smoking ban for four years now. Recently researchers from Rome reported an 11% reduction in “coronary events” (read heart attacks) since the ban began.

    I guess she could smoke it outside. I would wisper that in her right ear.

  • bob

    Nice comment, Bob Moffitt. BC, I couldn’t tell from your male-fantasy example whether the study of ear receptivity variation showed that women as well as men intake info better with their right ear.

  • nobrainer

    I have heard, (probably through both ears) that information on the right side of your body reflects your left brain and visca verse- I have also read that your left brain is your analytical side and your right is all about your creative side.

    so that being said

    //Of 88 clubbers who were approached on the right, 34 let the researcher bum a smoke, compared with 17 of 88 whom she approached on the left.

    I think that the 17 left ear whisperers got to take smokin’ bambina home

  • http://allpawsondeck.blogspot.com Sara Ann Nelson

    Very interesting article … as someone who has 100% hearing loss in my right ear, I’m curious about how my brain might perceive sound differently … I guess no one will be bumming any cigarettes from me any time soon, at any rate …