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Fly on the right: Lateral preferences when choosing aircraft seats

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A small preference has been observed for people to choose seats on the left of aircraft when booking via an online system. Although this is consistent with pseudoneglect—the known leftward bias in perception and representation—rightward preferences have been commonly observed in seating selection tasks in other environments. Additionally, the previous research in aircraft seating was unable to dissociate a bias to one side of the screen from a bias to one side of the cabin of the aircraft. Here, we present a study in which participants were asked to select seats for a range of fictional flights. They demonstrated a preference for seats on the right of the cabin, irrespective of whether the right of the cabin appeared to either the right or the left of the screen, a preference for seats towards the front of the aircraft and a preference to favour window and aisle seats. This suggests, in contrast to previous research, that participants demonstrated a rightward lateral bias to representations of an aircraft. These results may have implications for our understanding of asymmetries in cognition as well as having potentially important practical implications for airlines.
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Keywords: Behavioural asymmetry; aviation; pseudoneglect; representational pseudoneglect; seat preference

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Psychology and Sociology, Memory Research Group, Centre for Applied Social Science, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK 2: Human Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Publication date: September 3, 2018

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