Human handedness: An ethological perspective

L. F. Marchant*, W. C. McGrew

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Human handedness is thought to be unique and universal. Critical examination of primary sources challenges both of these conclusions. Data on laterality of function in apes, humankind's closest living relations, indicates hand preference and task specialization, but not yet handedness, as crucial studies remain to be done. Ethnographic data across cultures reveal more variance than is usually acknowledged, but existing findings are based on minimal and limited data. Ethological studies of spontaneous behavior in every day life are needed for both human and non-human primates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Evolution
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998


  • Ethology
  • Handedness
  • Hominoidea
  • Homo sapiens
  • Laterality


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