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Need a Favor? Talk To My Right Ear 288

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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  • Re:Not enough data (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2009 @12:55AM (#28462941)

    Generally 176 is a sufficiently large sample for statistical purposes. There are methods to calculate how likely it is that the observed differences weren't just random luck. In other words, you can calculate the chance of getting the observed results when there is no real difference. When this chance (called a p-value) is low (one common significance level is 5%), you can conclude that it wasn't just luck and another factor was at work.

    More stuff:

  • Re:Corpus Callosum (Score:3, Informative)

    by cybin ( 141668 ) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @12:58AM (#28462953) Homepage

    indeed, the corpus callosum does connect the two hemispheres -- but remember, not everything in the brain is "active" -- much of it is passive, and it's not just "excitatory" -- it's also inhibitory. a lot of the signals on one side do not get routed to the other, to use a computer term.

    at the same time, remember that the left-brain/right-brain stuff is pop psychology. one simple scientific finding, that language is primarily left-lateralized, got turned into this gigantic thing that just isn't true or in any way demonstrable.

  • Re:Unconvinced (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2009 @01:50AM (#28463209)

    Except for the fact that the auditory system most certainly works bilaterally. The parent is wrong -- auditory fibers decussate while still in the brainstem before projecting to the medial geniculate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2009 @02:53AM (#28463513)

    mod parent up. Most lefties I know (myself included) are not very assertive. The intelligence thing is suspect too.

    Then again, I'll take all the free presumed-to-be-enhanced attributes I can get.

  • Re:I'm surprised (Score:2, Informative)

    by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @04:52AM (#28464119)
    I find it interesting, then, that orchestras are arranged with the violin sections on the left...

    That's simply because the violin is played on the left shoulder, thus projectting most of the sound towards the instrumentalist's front and right.
  • Re:Unconvinced (Score:3, Informative)

    by xouumalperxe ( 815707 ) on Thursday June 25, 2009 @05:22AM (#28464241)

    Yes, I'm sure the scientists who conducted never bothered to look up how audio is introduced to the brain. I'm sure you're much smarter and better learned on the subject matter compared with them, just like every other /. genius who manages in two seconds flat to come up with exactly why a study is flawed despite it being outside of their area of expertise.

    And this, children, is how you make an ad hominem attack.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2009 @05:27AM (#28464265)

    That is why we have this wonderful act known as "washing your hands". You too can do this right in your very own home with only some water and soap.


  • Re:Not enough data (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2009 @07:36AM (#28464723)

    "There are methods to calculate how likely it is that the observed differences weren't just random luck."

    No, there are not. You can calculate the probability that if the differences were caused by random luck (with a certain distribution), you would get the results you did. However, there is no method to go the other way, to calculate from the results you got to what the probability is they were caused by random luck.

    Example: If we flip a fair coin, the probability we get heads is 50%. Suppose somebody hands us a coin, we flip it ten times, and it comes up heads six times. What is the probability it is fair? We cannot know, because we do not know the probability the person handed us a biased coin, or how biased it might be.

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.