Help finding backup research: frequency of sorting columns in a table vs that column's lateral position

sorting
displayorder
usability

#1

I’m trying to prove something that I’ve always instinctively felt and observed to be true, but I’m having a hard time finding any literature to back this piece up.

Let’s say that you’re creating a report in Excel about the gains or losses you’ve had on different investment accounts over a range of years. You want to see the total amount you’ve earned or lost over those years in each account. If you were making the report, you would have three columns:

Let’s say that you want to sort this information by most recent tax year, and then the lowest account number, and the most to least recent year. If I were setting up a spreadsheet to show this information, I’d correlate the left-to-right horizontal display with the order in which I’m sorting that information. Your data set would end up looking something like this:

Although you could transpose any one of these columns, the tendency will always be to put the highest priority sort order in the furthest column to the left, as doing outherwise would feel weird (though there certainly could be supporting use cases).

What I’m looking for is anything that backs this hypothesis up-- or disproves it. Does anyone have any thoughts, feedback, or sources that might be able to give me a hand with this?