The Right Brain v. Left Brain Fallacy

AMP3 Public RelationsUncategorized Leave a Comment

Once again, it’s time for a little personal story to put into perspective an otherwise unfounded rambling:

When I was in first grade, my parents went in to meet with my teacher, Mrs. Dempster, for a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference.  It was at that time that Mrs. Dempster would cripple my reputation by telling my parents that I had, what she affectionately called, a “reality-fantasy” problem.

“Mrs. Brook,” Mrs. Dempster started, “I’m a little concerned that Jackie has a problem discerning the difference between reality and fantasy.  You see, we did an exercise in class, and her response was a little troublesome.

“Oh?” my mother wondered.

“I was reading the children a story about a cat that went to the store to buy some milk.  When I asked the children what was wrong with the accompanying picture, all the children, except your daughter, answered that cats can’t talk.”

“And Jackie’s answer?”

“She said, ‘A talking cat wouldn’t buy their own milk.  They’d be rich and famous and would have someone else buy their milk for them.’  Now, you can see why that raised some concerns, can’t you?  And how much television does she watch?”

Almost 20 years later, that conversation still comes back to bite me.  Though, seriously, a talking cat wouldn’t have handlers that bought milk for him?

Anyway, I recently took an online “test” to see if I was more right-brained or left-brained.  Was I “creative” or “analytic?”  Do I use “logic” or “feelings?”  Could my “reality-fantasy problem” have been an early warning sign that one side of my brain ruled my body while the other lay helpless?

Even though I firmly believe this particular test (and its analysis) are absolute bunk, it re-affirmed my belief that I was right-brained.  As such:

I use feelings

Am “big picture” oriented

My imagination rules

I opt for symbols and images (as opposed to words and language)

I prefer the present & future as opposed to the present & past

I prefer philosophy & religion to math & science

I believe (v. “know”)

I appreciate (v. “acknowledge”)

I use spatial perception

I know object function (v. object name)

I’m fantasy-based

I present possibilities

I’m impetuous

I take risks

The items I bolded are ones that are patently untrue.  I ADORE language and loathe symbols (like numbers; boo math).  I also have some of the worst spatial reasoning known to man (I have gotten lost in my own house before and it had nothing to do with drugs, alcohol, or temporary blindness—it was a new house, and it was big, and so what if I was 23 when it happened…).

The items that were ital’d are things that are not true or untrue, but rather “mood dependent.”  For example, I typically look to the future rather than dwelling on the past.  But when needed, I am shameless about dredging up the past (like when I’m in a heated argument and I need ammo to supplement my point).

Anyway, the relative inaccuracy with which this brain test (which I’m sure SOME people actually take seriously) makes me wonder how much stock we can really put into this. tries to elucidate some of this quandary with the following breakdown:

Left Brain                                   Right Brain

Logical                                    Random

Sequential                                     Intuitive

Rational                                 Holistic

Analytical                                    Synthesizing

Objective                                    Subjective

Looks at parts                      Looks at whole

Jackie for the AMP3 PR Agency Blog

Now, I don’t know about you, but I think this list was written by some petty, jealous left-brained jerk.  I mean, as a left-brainer, you’re categorized as the less creative of the two brains, but positioning traits like “rational” and “logical” against those of a right-brained person is just foolish.

Funderstanding then tries to cop out by saying that people can be “whole-brained,” which is just a half-brained sort of statement.  Obviously people use both sides of their brain (barring lobotomies or debilitating conditions that physically prevent otherwise), and the whole right- v. left- thing has to do with dominance.  It’s just like being ambidextrous: you can use both hands, but you probably prefer one over the other, and you most likely aren’t using both at the same time.

Going back to my initial little story about my supposed “reality-fantasy problem,” I would argue that worrying about a 6-year-old being creative is foolish (or maybe I was just being snarky, in which case my awesome-ness was beginning to show at 6).  Additionally, my being creative/snarky doesn’t necessarily imply that I’m “right-brained.”

The most interesting note that came out of all my “brain testing” research was that education in our country is geared towards the left-brained manner of thinking.  Music and arts programs are cut, but you rarely hear of algebra or earth science getting canned.

I’m sure there’s some truth to the right- v. left-brained debate (physiologically speaking, there HAS to be something to it, as simple positioning of brain components have to go on one side or the other), but the generalizations about people’s character based on which lobe they use more has to end.

What’s worst of all is that the defining characteristics are as vague (if not more vague than) your average daily horoscope.

Jackie for the AMP3 PR Agency Blog

Share this Post

Leave a Reply