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.
“The present work is one of the few studies demonstrating the natural expression of hemispheric asymmetries, showing their effect in everyday human behavior,” write psychologists Daniele Marzoli and Luca Tommasi of the University G. d’Annunzio in Italy in the journal Naturwissenschaften.
It’s the latest in a series of studies that show that sound from both human ears is processed differently within the brain. Researchers have noted that humans tend to have a preference for listening to verbal input with their right ears and that given stimulus in both ears, they’ll privilege the syllables that went into the right ear. Brain scientists hypothesize that the right ear auditory stream receives precedence in the left hemisphere of the brain, where the bulk of linguistic processing is carried out.
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