Motives and Laterality: Exploring the Links
We explored associations between the needs for power, achievement, and affiliation and functional cerebral asymmetries (FCAs), guided by three established hypotheses about the nature of these associations.
One-hundred-and-seven participants completed picture-story measures of dispositional motives and activity inhibition (AI), a frequent moderator of motive-behavior associations, tasks measuring FCAs (line bisection, chimeric emotional face judgments, turning bias, perceptual and response asymmetries on the Poffenberger task), self-reported laterality preferences (handedness, footedness, ear and eye preference), and interhemispheric interaction (crossed-uncrossed difference). They also completed an experiment manipulating hand contractions (left, right, both, neither) while they worked on a second picture-story motive measure.
Dispositional power motivation was associated with stronger rightward asymmetry and less interhemispheric transfer in high-AI and stronger leftward asymmetry and more interhemispheric transfer in low-AI individuals. For the affiliation motive, findings were fewer and in the opposite direction of those for the power motive. These findings emerged for men, but not for women. Left- or right-hand contractions led to increases in power and achievement motivation, but not affiliation motivation. Only left-hand contractions led to decreased AI.
We discuss these findings in the context of sex-dimorphic organizing and activating effects of steroids on motives and laterality.