How you hold a baby says more about your personality than you think
A team of psychologists have set out to answer why women default to their left side when cradling an infant.
The team at University G. d’Annunzio of Chieti–Pescara in Italy designed an experiment to test whether women who held their baby on the left side were more likely to display a secure attachment style.
Attachment styles come in two forms: Secure and insecure. People with secure attachment styles have an easier time developing and maintaining close and secure relationships. People with insecure attachment styles find it difficult to maintain healthy interpersonal connections.
The researchers hypothesised that there was an association between left-cradling and secure attachments. Left-cradling promotes a more natural “right brain to right brain communication”, which is important as the right brain seems to be the dominant side for social attachment and connection.
In order to test this hypothesis, researchers recruited 288 females ranging in ages 18 – 38 to take part in a study.
The test subjects were asked to pick up and cradle a life-like doll six times for a period of 10 seconds. The doll was positioned differently each time participants lifted the doll to avoid experimental bias.
After the cradling exercise, participants did two surveys. The first survey is a 50 item scale that measures a person’s perception of their relationship with their parents during their first 16 years of life.
The second survey was about the experience in close relationships scale, which measures attachment security in romantic relationships.
They found that those who cradled on their left side had more positive interpersonal attachments with their mothers and romantic partners compared to those who didn’t.
The researchers write, "Positive attachment styles to the mother or the romantic partner [...] predicted a higher prevalence of left-cradling bias in our sample."
The researchers suggested that their results provide confirmation that “left cradling can be considered a typical behaviour in humans and right cradling is a typical behaviour”.
They also stated that:
"Such preferences might be related to a variety of different factors such as anxiety, stress, depression, and even attachment style. Dysfunctions in socio-emotional states and attachment styles seem to reduce the typical left-cradling bias which is nonetheless the predominant pattern also in women with moderate symptoms, and it is plausible that only when dysfunctions are meaningful is the cradling behaviour significantly influenced."
So, if you cradle a baby on the left side, you’re more likely to have stable relationships with those around you.
If you cradle the baby on the right side, you’re displaying “atypical behaviour” and are more likely to be under stress and have an insecure attachment style.