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Negative Emotional Valence Is Associated With Non-Right-Handedness and Increased Imbalance of Hemispheric Activation as Measured by Tympanic Membrane Temperature

Propper, Ruth E. PhD*; Brunyé, Tad T. PhD†‡; Christman, Stephen D. PhD§; Bologna, Jessica*

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: September 2010 - Volume 198 - Issue 9 - p 691-694
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181ef1f35
Brief Reports

We investigated the possibility that individual differences in hand preference influence hemispheric emotional valence asymmetries using the Profile of Mood States Short-Form (Shacham, J Pers Assess. 1983;47:305–306) as a measure of emotional valence and tympanic membrane temperature (TMT) as a measure of hemispheric activity. We replicate others' findings of increased negative valence in the non–right-handed. We further demonstrate handedness effects on the absolute difference between left and right TMT, and a positive relationship between this measure and the anger/hostility subscale of the Profile of Mood States Short Form. Findings suggest (i) negative emotional valence is associated with extreme asymmetries of cortical activation and (ii) TMT may be a simple means by which emotional state may be indicated, with increased difference between left and right TMT, suggesting increased anger/hostility. These findings offer the possibility of an exceptionally simple measure that may, in conjunction with more established techniques, offer valuable diagnostic information, particularly for disorders involving anger/hostility.

*Department of Psychology, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA; †Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA; ‡US Army Natick Solidier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Natick, MA; and §Department of Psychology, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH.

Supported by US Army Contract W911QY-09-P-0567.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily of the US Army.

Send reprint requests to Ruth E. Propper, PhD, Psychology Department, Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike St, North Andover, MA 01845. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.