Download Poster (696 KB)

Publication Date


Document Type


Presentation Type


Degree Type





Julie Campbell

Mentor Department



Research shows an infant’s hand preference is related to the mother’s handedness (Michel, & Harkins 1988). During simple unimanual actions, Michel and Harkins (1988) found that mothers who had a strong left-hand preference had infants who had more left-hand use during reaching and unimanual actions than infants who had two right-handed parents or an infant who had a left-handed father. The purpose of this study is to examine the relation between mother and infant hand preference during complex play experience, extending beyond simple unimanual actions. Hand preference was observed for thirty-one motherinfant dyads during play experiences, across a one-year period. While video-recorded, mothers were asked to play with their infants for five minutes using a standard set of toys. Mothers’ hand actions were coded as right, left or both, for each action depending on which hand was used in an interaction with the four objects. Actions were coded if mothers engaged in the following: object play, (mother interacted with the infant using an object), construction/deconstruction (mother connected or separated the chain link toy), nonconstruction (mother utilized an object as a tool). The number of actions performed with each hand were then put into the equation (R-L)/√(R+L) in order to create a z-score of continuous hand preference. Infants’ hand preference was recorded during a play situation in which the infant was presented with several different toys that could be constructed or combined. Results showed that across all play types and visits mothers preferred to use their right hand twice as often as they used their left hand and four times more than they used hands bimanually. More mothers are right hand dominant during play, which may result in asymmetrical play experience for infants with a burgeoning hand preference. A Pearson Correlation showed no significant relation between mother and infant handedness (p = .08). Our results do not agree with previous research; this disagreement may be due to an insufficient assessment of mother handedness, which does not require the use of the dominant hand, while the infant assessment was difficult and required the skill of a dominant hand.


Authors: Shaunta Caffey, Bailey Schejbel, Emily Marcinowski

Mothers' Hand Preference During Dyadic Play Experience with Infants

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.