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Is left bias distorting your research? 8 January, 2007

Posted by Jay Ball in theory.

There’s an interesting bit of research in the latest British Psychological Society‘s bulletin (always worth a read – RSS feed here). Researchers have shown that most people’s general bias towards the left-hand side of space could be distorting their responses to surveys.

In a survey asking students to rate their experience of university, the researchers used a 5-item Likert scale ranging from definitely disagree to definitely agree. Except of course they swapped the direction of the scale for half the recipients (in that sneaky psycho-research kind of way).

The result was that the students using the scale that started with ‘definitely agree’ chose that as their answer 27% more often than those with the scale beginning ‘definitely disagree’. This is, by anyone’s standards a pretty significant shift.

I can’t help wondering what implications this could have for the way we structure information in advertising. It’s interesting that so much of the traditional emphasis in ad circles is on the right hand page. Even within a DPS, there is a definite bias towards the right. Maybe this is all, well, wrong.

Something to think about.

You can read the BPS article on the research here.

Order the full findings report here.



1. Anonymous in Elementary school - 11 February, 2007

I am doing a science fair project on left-right bias and I want to ay that you guys are the one source of information I found after…
You rock!!!

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