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Need a Favor? Talk To My Right Ear 288

Posted by samzenpus
from the bene-gesserit-tricks dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that scientists have found that if you want to get someone to do something, ask them in their right ear. Known as the 'right ear advantage,' scientists believe it is because information received through the right ear is processed by the left hand side of the brain which is more logical and better at deciphering verbal information than the right side of the brain. 'Talk into the right ear you send your words into a slightly more amenable part of the brain,' say researchers. The team, led by Dr. Luca Tommasi and Daniele Marzoli from the University of Chieti in central Italy, observed the behavior of hundreds of people in three nightclubs across the city where they intentionally addressed 176 people in either their right or their left ear when asking for a cigarette. They obtained significantly more cigarettes when they made their request in a person's right ear compared with their left. 'These results seem to be consistent with the hypothesized specialization of right and left hemispheres,' say researchers. 'We can also see this tendency when people use the phone, most will naturally hold it to their right ear.'"

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Need a Favor? Talk To My Right Ear

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  • by KenMcM (1293074) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @12:24AM (#28462755)
    ...and I thought it was because I was right-handed!
  • by Meshach (578918) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @12:24AM (#28462757)
    Seems like the classic example. More people are right handed then left handed, left handed people are more assertive.. who knows.
  • Unconvinced (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dexmachina (1341273) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @12:28AM (#28462791)
    Correct the data for laterality (right hand preference in majority of the population), then maybe the results will be interesting. Even then, the explanation is bull. Unlike sight, the auditory system doesn't work cross-hemispherically. Sound from the right side is carried by the auditory nerve into the right portion of the temporal lobe.
  • Double Blind? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twoshortplanks (124523) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @12:32AM (#28462815) Homepage
    This article suggests that the experiments were conducted by the very people who were proposing the hypothesis. That's not very scientific - this should have been double blind. Any number of factors can effect the success rate of getting the cigarettes - including if the researchers believed they were likely to be more successful.
  • Not enough data (Score:1, Insightful)

    by tiger32kw (1236584) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @12:34AM (#28462825)
    176 people... How is that enough to put the data up to more than just coincidence? Repeat the experiment 10 more times, then it might be a little more credible.
  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @01:00AM (#28462955) Journal

    I'm obviously a whack job then. I hold my phone to my left ear because I'm right handed. Doesn't take all that much coordination to hold a phone up, so it's the lesser of two tasks. Job interviews over the phone for example require me to take notes (I can't write legibly with my left hand... or my right if you ask anyone else, but it's all relative...), and it's really more trouble than it's worth to reach across my keyboard and use my mouse with my left hand.

  • Re:Unconvinced (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @01:19AM (#28463037)
    I think if editors actually linked to the journal paper in question rather than a second hand source a lot of this nonsense could be avoided.
  • Re:Not enough data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SashaMan (263632) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @01:24AM (#28463079)

    Ugg, how is it that the parent is modded down but the GP is modded insightful? The GP is basically just saying "well, that doesn't feel like enough to me", while the parent points out accurately that it very easy to determine what the probability is that the results are due to chance. Since the article states that the researchers obtained "significantly" more cigarettes, I'm assuming that this is at least based on the common level of 5%. You can have a small sample size that is highly statistically significant if the skew is large enough. Unfortunately, even on slashdot, most people don't understand statistics.

    That said, hypothesis testing just determines the probability that the results are NOT due to chance. Thus, it's totally possible that the results are due to something different that what the researchers propose - maybe they were just friendlier when asking from the right side.

  • Re:Unconvinced (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Virtual_Raider (52165) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @01:33AM (#28463119) Homepage

    Correct the data for laterality (right hand preference in majority of the population), then maybe the results will be interesting. Even then, the explanation is bull. Unlike sight, the auditory system doesn't work cross-hemispherically. Sound from the right side is carried by the auditory nerve into the right portion of the temporal lobe.

    What if it doesn't have to do with which ear is connected to what side of the brain but it is instead a visual cue (which is brain-sided) being picked up upon? If I stando to your right to talk to you, I might be having a psychological impact rather than a mechanical one.

    What irritates me about so many of these types of research is that they seem to assume as a given that only because they concentrate in one part of a system this narrow focus automagically translates into isolation of the subject. How can you account for any other influences? Even if the subject is blind-folded, if the examiner is close enough the subject could still perceive the body heat. What if they wear ear phones with the balance tilted to the right or left, how do you account for the psychological factor of hearing on your preferred side over a purely mechanical explanation?

    I think the phenomenon is interesting and worth studying, but the conclusion seems pretty suspect IMHO.

  • Riiiight... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fizzl (209397) <fizzl@@@fizzl...net> on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:03AM (#28463267) Homepage Journal

    The method wasn't very scientificy, sample size was small and they skewed the results by "knowing" what kind of results they want.
    I would have invented way more elaborate scheme to get an excuse to blow my grant money to nightclubbin

  • Re:Not enough data (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:16AM (#28463349)
    The parent is modded down because it's a Anon Cow post, and most mods seem to mod/read with their normal reading hiddens turned on. Chances are that it's simply not being looked at enough yet to get modded up. Having said that, as the parent of this is a +5 already, those mods should be modding the parent up as well.

    Well! Get on the case boobs!
  • Re:Not enough data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ma8thew (861741) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @03:24AM (#28463673)
    The extent of most Slashdot users statistics knowledge is to scream 'Correlation is not causation' at any science story. This might have something to do with the fact that anyone who uses the phrase is instantly modded +5 Insightful, but then again, correlation is not causation.
  • Re:Unconvinced (Score:2, Insightful)

    by whrde (1120405) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @07:45AM (#28464753) Homepage
    Yep, I haven't read the research, but my first reaction is that the summary is an oversimplification and seems outright wrong. I start with the assumption that this is what's happening [phdcomics.com], and then wait to read the actual research before making up my mind.
  • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @08:34AM (#28465001) Homepage

    Actually, if you're a female, it doesn't matter which ear you talk into as long as you press your breasts into my arm when you make the request.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2009 @09:30AM (#28465505)
    +1, Funny for that comment with that username. Good form!

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