Left-Leaning Research

89.3 KPCC Public Radio:

Remember, from math class, the number line? Smaller numbers on the left, bigger ones on the right?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying don’t worry, I won’t ask you about absolute value.

But Dutch psychologist Anita Eerland might. She suspects people internalize the number line both mentally and physically.

So she and colleagues had subjects stand on a Wii balance board while answering questions projected on a screen. The questions? All estimating quantities: Height of the Eiffel Tower. Average lifespan of a parrot. Everyday stuff.

While subjects were answering, the team tilted the Wii board subtly left or right.

So no one suspected the tilt, they were told to maintain good posture as indicated by the screen–only it was rigged so people always seemed upright.

Turns out when leaning left, people’s estimates were always smaller than when upright or leaning right.

Read the whole story: 89.3 KPCC Public Radio

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