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Which Ear Do you Use for the Phone?

This article is from BBC Health News, posted Wednesday, 24 June.

It was mildly interesting to me until I got to the part about phones. Yes, I think I hear and process better with my right ear, but I have always used my left ear for phones. I assumed most people do. So I asked AdventureMan, who is left handed, and he said he picks up his phone and listens with his right ear, but that is also because he needs his left hand for taking notes. Aha! And I use my right hand for taking notes.

So my question is – which ear do YOU use, and are you right handed or left-handed? I think it would make a difference.

Right ear is ‘better for hearing’

The left-side of the brain processes much of what is heard in the right ear

If you want to get someone to do something, ask them in their right ear, say scientists.

Italian researchers found people were better at processing information when requests were made on that side in three separate tests.

They believe this is because the left side of the brain, which is known to be better at processing requests, deals with information from the right ear.

The findings are reported online in the journal Naturwissenschaffen.

We can also see this tendency when people use the phone, most will naturally hold it to their right ear
Professor Sophie Scott, of University College London

In the first study, 286 clubbers were observed while they were talking with loud music in the background.
In total, 72% of interactions occurred on the right side of the listener.

In the second study, researchers approached 160 clubbers and mumbled an inaudible, meaningless utterance and waited for the subjects to turn their head and offer either their left or their right ear.

They then asked them for a cigarette.

Overall, 58% offered their right ear for listening and 42% their left.

In the third study, the researchers intentionally addressed 176 clubbers in either their right or their left ear when asking for a cigarette.

The researchers obtained significantly more cigarettes when they spoke to the clubbers’ right ear compared with their left.

Brain
In conclusion, the researchers said: “Talk into the right ear you send your words into a slightly more amenable part of the brain.

“These results seem to be consistent with the hypothesised specialisation of right and left hemispheres.”

Professor Sophie Scott, of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, agreed.
“Most people process speech and language on the left-hand side of the brain and while it is not cut-and-dry a lot of what goes in our right ear will be dealt with by the left-side of the brain.

“The other side of the brain is more involved in things such as interpreting emotion and that is why we have these kind of findings.

“We can also see this tendency when people use the phone, most will naturally hold it to their right ear.”

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June 26, 2009 - Posted by | Aging, Communication, Health Issues, Random Musings, Statistics

30 Comments »

  1. I’m with my uncle ๐Ÿ™‚ – holding the phone to my right ear feels more natural, even when I’m not taking notes.

    I wonder (“I wonder …” looool) if people’s phone habits change when driving. I know that we are all moving to headset/bluetooth calls, but for those who still use mobiles while driving, do you find yourself switching to your less-familiar ear so that you have a hand free for driving?

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. Who decides what is right and what is left ? maybe someone’s left is another person’s right, right?

    Comment by Purgatory | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. Right handed, left ear–but my right hear is hearing impaired. I seem to remember when I was younger (and could hear better),I held the phone in my left hand to my right ear when I had to write.

    Comment by momcat | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  4. I think the phone issue was a bad choice for the test – as people have noted there are way to many variables: quality of hearing; casual conversation or needing to write; driving/working or relaxed. I switch back and forth just because my arm gets tired/cramped or my ear starts to hurt from being pressed between my glasses frames and the phone. The other aspects of the test were much more indicative I think. A better test for phone would be to limit the observations to those who use bluetooth headset – which ear do they use (but even that may be due to the predominant hand if they have to touch the device to activate/deactivate calls)?

    And have you ever noticed how the Secret Service guys always have their ear piece in their left ear? (But that may be because they’re right hand and need to keep the right hand side of their body unencumbered for drawing a firearm…)

    Comment by bitjockey | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  5. You know, Little Diamond, I do use the bluetooth in my right ear. Huunnhh. BTW, HHG arrive Monday, insh’allah. You missed another speeding bullet, LOL. I may save the books for you!

    Purg, or maybe someone’s left is another person’s wrong, right?

    Aha! Yes, that would make a difference, MomCat. I never thought I would think about having a good ear and a bad ear, but I do find I hear better with one than the other.

    Actually, BitJockey, I muddied the waters. Their study was more direct – do people who get information in the right ear comply/respond better than people who get information in the left ear? Their discovery – yes, statistically, they do. The random musing on my part sort of blurred things. Sorry! (LOL, had not thought about the secret service guys! Watch out! You will make Purg suspicious!)

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  6. Interesting. SO, do I need to earplug my left ear? ๐Ÿ˜›

    Comment by MacaholiQ8 | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  7. Hmmmm, I use whatever ear or hand is free….

    Comment by Aafke | June 27, 2009 | Reply

  8. I never thought about this – but I think I always use my right ear. Very interesting.

    Comment by globalgal | June 28, 2009 | Reply

    • How would you hold the phone while taking notes?

      Comment by Jerry Sherman | August 16, 2012 | Reply

      • I always hold the phone to my right hand/ear even when taking notes, hold with left hand to right ear and dial, hold on right shoulder while writing, or left hand crossways, sit at the edge of the chair.

        Comment by Jerry Sherman | August 16, 2012

    • How do you hold the phone while taking notes?

      Comment by Jerry Sherman | August 20, 2012 | Reply

      • Do you sit at the edge of the chair while in the process?

        Comment by Jerry Sherman | August 20, 2012

    • How do you sit while writing on the phone, all the way in or at the edge of the chair?

      Comment by Jerry T. Sherman | August 21, 2012 | Reply

  9. I use my left ear till it gets hot then switch the phone to the other ear ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Yousef | June 29, 2009 | Reply

  10. I know I am off topic… but you have to find a picture that you take almost daily which replaces your morning sunrise pictures from Kuwait!

    Comment by Ansam | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  11. bluetooth headsets are great because they are wireless and your movement is not limited by wires -‘.

    Comment by Acne Health Treatments ยท | November 12, 2010 | Reply

  12. I am right handed and prefer using my right hand /ear while on the phone, never switch, hold either left hand by mouth piece while taking notes or on shoulder, hold receiver with my left hand/right ear while dialing.

    Comment by Jerry Sherman | August 2, 2012 | Reply

  13. Jerry, I tend to use the speaker phone, and often take notes standing up.

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 21, 2012 | Reply

  14. I hate speaker phones.

    Comment by Jerry T. Sherman | August 21, 2012 | Reply

  15. How many right handed women hold the telephone to their right hand/ear exclusively even while taking notes?

    Comment by Jerry T. Sherman | August 27, 2012 | Reply

  16. I use the phone with the Right ear. I have to use my left ear to listen to music while I’m working, because I am distracted by the music if it goes in my right ear. I process what’s going in my left ear as background and what’s going in my right as what commands my attention. I don’t know why, but I can’t concentrate on reading if I am listening solely with my right ear. However, if I’m listening with both ears, it is still distracting, but not as distracting as listening solely with the right. Wierd, Huh?

    Comment by skatardrummer | March 28, 2013 | Reply

  17. Not that weird, Skatardrummer, but whatever works for you. We are all different. There are some things I can’t do at all with noise in the background. I have discovered I love speaker phones and being hands-free.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 28, 2013 | Reply

    • I hate speaker phones.

      Comment by Jerry Sherman | March 30, 2013 | Reply

      • LOL, yeh I think you’ve mentioned that a time or two.

        Comment by intlxpatr | March 30, 2013

      • Who are you?

        Comment by Jerry Sherman | March 30, 2013

  18. Global gal, how do you hold the phone while writing notes?

    Comment by Jerry Sherman | October 25, 2013 | Reply

  19. I am right handed and always hold the telephone to my right hand/ear, if I have to write something, I will either hold the phone with my left hand to my right ear, maybe touching my shoulder and write, or on my right shoulder, and write, if I have my right hand full of stuff, I answer with my left hand and put to my right ear, and if I write, hold om my shoulder like mentioned and sit at the edge of the chair while writing.

    Comment by Jerry | June 23, 2014 | Reply

  20. Making telephone call, hold receiver to left hand/right ear

    Comment by Jerry | June 25, 2014 | Reply

  21. Any right handed women out here that always hold the telephone to their right hand/ear?

    Comment by Jerry Sherman | October 8, 2014 | Reply

  22. I am right handed and answer with my right hand to my right ear, hold with left hand/right ear to make telephone calls, same to write notes maybe tapping my shoulder or on right shoulder sit at the edge of the chair to write.

    Comment by Jerry Sherman | March 23, 2017 | Reply


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