Right Hand Good, Left Hand Bad? Gestures and Emotions

Right Hand... Good, Left Hand... Bad?
Does it matter to you and your audience which hand you gesture with? Well, in laboratory tests, "right and left-handers associate positive ideas like honesty and intelligence with their dominant side of space and negative ideas with their non-dominant side," says Daniel Casasanto of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. When examining spontaneous gestures in presidential debates during the 2004 and 2008 elections involving two right-handers (Kerry, Bush) and two left-handers (Obama, McCain) researchers Casasanto and Jasmin found that right-handed candidates made a greater proportion of right-hand gestures when expressing positive ideas and left-hand gestures when expressing negative thoughts. But the opposite was found for the left-handers, who favored their left hand more for the positive and their right hand for the negative. Obama's 'right-hand man' may be on his left. For years I have told my public speaking students who were nervous to try putting one hand in their pocket, For 30 years I have seen students who do this magic gesture with their dominant hand. As a coach for Politicians, the old school was to tell them to gesture mostly with their right hand and only to use their left hand when delivering bad news. The new data Cassanto shows is that people associate “good things with the side of their body they can use most fluently -- dominant is fluent, and fluent is good."

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at http://PattiWood.net. Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.