Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Handedness & drinking behaviour

This paper has been published on-line in the British Journal of Health Psychology, print version to follow.
Handedness and drinking behaviour
Kevin Denny
Objectives: A number of papers have investigated whether there is an association between handedness and alcohol consumption hypothesizing that alcoholism may be a consequence of atypical cerebral lateralization or a response to the stress involved in being a minority in a right-handed world. Research to date has mostly used small clinical samples, some without a comparison group. This paper exams this issue using a large population-based random sample.

Design: A large multi-country data set of nationally representative samples of the non-institutional population aged 50 years and older from 12 European countries was used (N=27,428). Methods Logistic regression was used to model the frequency with which individuals self-report the frequency of alcohol consumption. A series of models with differing numbers of potential confounders are estimated. The predictors of frequent and infrequent drinking are investigated separately.

Results: After controlling for a number of confounders it is shown that left-handers do drink more often. However, this is due to them being less likely to drink rarely (less than once a month) or not at all.

Conclusions: The evidence suggests that while there is an association between left-handedness and frequency of alcohol consumption there is no reason to believe that it is associated with excessive alcohol consumption or risky drinking.


Gerard O'Neill said...

Phew, you had me and the other ciotogs of Ireland worried there for a minute! My car insurance could have gone through the roof if the results had been worse...

Mind you, I wonder should I have to pay less for my life insurance since regular, non-excessive, alcohol consumption is rated more beneficial than no alcohol consumption?

I'll pitch it to my broker and let you know how I get on.

Kevin Denny said...

Yes it is possible, I suppose, that lefties actually drink too little as there is evidence of some health benefits from moderate drinking. Good luck with your broker. For a modest fee, I can provide an affadavit.

Liam Delaney said...

A natural follow-up would be to examine a measure of alcohol with quantity involved. Its hard to think of one that also has the handedness measure. Perhaps the American Life Panel.

Kevin Denny said...

Yes, some of the American datasets might have it. NCDS has great handedness data but like SHARE asks about frequency of drinking I think.