Cultural differences in lateral biases on aesthetic judgments: The effect of native reading direction

Flath, Meghan, E.
Smith, Austen, K.
Elias, Lorin, J.
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Left-to right (LTR) or right-to-left (RTL) directionality bias has been proposed to influence individuals’ aesthetic preference for dynamic stimuli. Two general theoretical propositions attempt to account for this bias. One states that directionality bias is based on scanning habits due to cultural differences in native reading/writing direction, whereas the other proposition speculates that LTR motion bias occurs due to the right hemisphere’s specialization in visuospatial processing. The current study assessed the aesthetic preference bias present when native LTR and RTL readers evaluated fashion garments on the runway in LTR or RTL motion. The aim of the study was to assess aesthetic preference bias for a novel dynamic stimulus and the corresponding influence of biological and cultural factors. Native LTR and RTL readers viewed two blocks of 20 mirror-reversed video pairs with models wearing dresses on a runway. Participants indicated which dress within the mirror-reversed pair they preferred. LTR readers displayed a significant leftward aesthetic preference bias indicating a preference for dresses moving LTR. RTL readers did not display a significant aesthetic preference bias for dresses moving in either direction. These results further support the generalizability of aesthetic preference biases for novel dynamic stimuli and support seminal literature that argues the bias occurs due to a combination of hemispheric dominance and cultural differences in native reading/writing direction.

© The Author(s) 2018. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, dis- tribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Aesthetic preference bias, Directional motion, Hemispheric specialization, Laterality, Native reading direction
Flath, M.E., Smith, A.K., & Elias, L.J. (2019). Cultural differences in lateral biases on aesthetic judgments: The effect of native reading direction. Culture and Brain, 7, 57–66.