Right-left confusion in the adult: A verbal labeling effect

M. Jeanne Sholl, Howard E. Egeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Directional judgments are typically slower when relative location is described by the words "east" and "west" or "right" and "left" than when described by the words "north" and "south" or "up" and "down." A series of experiments are reported that disentangle verbal from perceptual encoding explanations for right-left difficulty. Overall, our results support a verbal encoding explanation for right-left confusion in the adult. Experiments 1-3 demonstrate that in a response-differentiation task, it is response to the labels "north," "east," "south," and "west" that is responsible for right-left confusion. In addition, Experiments 4-6 demonstrate that right-left difficulty in a mirror image discrimination task is contingent on the use of directional labels. (The data also suggest that it may be more difficult to deal with "up," "down," "left," and "right" than with "north," "south," "east," and "west") The data are interpreted as inconsistent with a bilateral symmetry explanation for right-left confusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-350
Number of pages12
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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