|dc.description.abstract||Several studies have reported a strong bias in both human and non-human species for
cradling their infants to the left side of the body. Most studies suggest that the main
reason this phenomenon is the predominance of the right hemisphere of the brain for the
processing of emotions and its transference, through brain laterality, to the left side of
the body. Many other variables, including handedness, footedness, stress and depression
have also been found to have some effect on cradling side.
However, no study has been published for an Arab population. Given the strong
religious and cultural belief of most Arabs that only the right hand should be used for
most daily tasks, this study investigated the affect on cradling side of this habit, in
addition to the factors named above.
369 Saudi citizens took part in this study. 234 lived in Saudi Arabia and 135 had lived
in the UK for five or more years. 267 were women and 102 were men. Each answered a
questionnaire which asked about their ‘preferred’ cradling side and then the 102 men
were videotaped spontaneously cradling a real infant and an infant-like doll.
Unfortunately, only the male sample could be videotaped due to restrictions on filming
females in Saudi Arabia.
The results confirmed those of previous studies by showing a very strong bias to leftside
cradling. No difference was found between males and females in cradling a doll, or
between the Saudi-based sample and the UK-based sample but the bias was
significantly reduced in men. Apart from the influence of gender, the factors that
reduced the cradling bias for a real infant were found to be lack of experience of
parenthood, depression, stress and greater age of the infant. In cradling a doll, the most
influential variables were handedness, footedness and depression.
Further work is required on Arab samples, especially in examining spontaneous
cradling by women and its relation to depression and stress. A mother’s mental state is
known to affect the health of the infant and cradling side could be a useful filter for neonatal
women who might require psychiatric treatment. Further research could also shed
light on gender differences in the processing of emotion.||en