Please Take Your Seats: Examining the Presence of Seating Biases in Trains
Lateral asymmetries are a fundamental part of human cognition, ranging from kissing, turning and handedness. Previous research has revealed a variety of potential lateral biases in how people choose their seats. Research using seating maps has shown that right-side biases are present in almost all contexts assessed, such as cinemas, theatres, music halls and aeroplanes. However, recent findings are in dispute as to the effect in public transport, with conflicting findings being presented in the literature. Thus far, no previous research has assessed the presence of laterality in trains, where seating choice is regularly spontaneous. The present study presented participants with representative maps of a train carriage, with directional cues to show participants which way they would be travelling, as well as some journey information. Of these journeys, some were to and from real places, and some were entirely fictitious. Analysis revealed that there was no lateral bias present in the data, regardless of direction, the reality or fictitiousness of the place names, or any between-subjects factors such as handedness or sex. This finding is in contrast with previous published research, where an absence of lateral bias has yet to be reported by academic researchers. The research reveals for the first time the ways in which lateral biases may be present in trains and gives researchers a clearer view of how to proceed in the further study of lateral biases on public transport services.