Left Handed

I strongly believe there is a connection between left-handedness and the capability of logical thinking. I know many people who have studied physics, and a large number of them are left-handed. Is there any scientific study to back this up? -- Sandra

What a sinister assertion! How gauche!

There seems to be a strong connection between LeftHanded and SpatialAwareness.

I live with two other left-handed people. I have very good spatial awareness, one person I live with has decent spatial skills, another has a very small amount of spatial skills. I haven't seen much relation between left-handed and spatially skilled. -- ShaeErisson

I started out believing that handedness reflects the dominant side of the brain. Then I found that this doesn't reflect reality, as there are people who are right handed but have a "right brain". I realized that I'm not left-handed but have good spatial awareness and other "right brain" characteristics. (The right brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. So a leftie should theoretically be right-brained.) Recently, I decided that the whole left-brain/right-brain thing was like one's horiscope and ceased to put stock in it. You can see in the left-brain/right-brain description enough characteristics to make it anecdotally true, even if there is no basis in reality.

More than 50% of Championship tennis players are LeftHanded, as are the majority of Architects I know.

Could this be due to that fact that lefties almost always play righties, and so are accustomed to them, while righties rarely play lefties, and thus are unused to the game that way? Similar to the benefit a leftie has as a baseball pitcher? -- PeteHardie

Eh... No, it couldn't, not if "more than 50%"... -- DanielKnapp

Yes it could. It's more than 50% of Championship tennis players - most tennis players would be right-handed

The same happens to be true in fencing, although it's not so lopsided.

I wouldn't be so sure about the fencing case. Take a look at the top 25 male sabre fencers, you'll find lefties are certainly not in the majority. I'm pretty sure this goes for larger samples as well. (Not so sure on the other weapons though.) -- OlivierAntonis

I remember seeing a scientific documentary saying that there was a disproportionate number of gay LeftHanded people. -- JeanPhilippeBelanger

Either back this up with the show's citation or delete it.

I was posting this (the show reference) in the hope that someone else might have seen it (all I can remember is that it was on PBS in 1997-1998, and it was a series on the brain). I'd still like to see someone come up with it.

I don't have a reference, but a justification. Both are unusual preferences with negative consequences, and both are "curable" in a Clockwork Orange sort of way. So exhibiting either behavior requires not only the unusual preference, but a certain level of stubbornness not to let one's self be "converted" by social pressures. The sorts of people that don't let society tell them who to love certainly won't let society tell them what hand to sign their names with. --RobMandeville

Can't remember the show, but discussion on this subject seems plentiful. From the APA: http://www.apa.org/journals/bul/700ab.html Sexual Orientation and Handedness in Men and Women: A Meta-Analysis Martin L. Lalumière, Ray Blanchard, and Kenneth J. Zucker Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto.

News report about the study: http://www.canoe.ca/Health0007/06_hands.html

Analysis: The original assertion was a bit imprecise. There are two interpretations; first, that LeftHanded people are more likely to be homosexual, and second, which is supported by some research, that homosexuals are more likely to be LeftHanded. The two are not symmetrical. -- StevenNewton

Also, it seems to me the whole idea of doing an aggregate study of a group of obviously inconclusive studies is flawed and could not possibly produce conclusive results. -- JohnPerkins

Why do you say the studies are "obviously" inconclusive ? They may have been aggregating studies that were not about handedness and sexual orientation.

I'm sort of annoyed with myself for defending a study of which I know too little. -- JeanPhilippeBelanger

My opinion was based on this sentence from the abstract of the article: "Handedness, a behavioral marker of early neurodevelopment, has been associated with sexual orientation in some studies but not in others." Typically, when different studies produce different results, the whole of the matter is considered inconclusive. -- JohnPerkins

There's certainly a level of social darwinism where it concerns hand traits. It's common for entities or individuals to use negative motivation on people who appear in need of adaptations. Negative motivation typically falls into a pattern of invalidating paternal instincts in the males and maternal instincts in the females. While many people believe that homosexuality exists as something people are born into, there does appear to be converts. I recently read an issue of a popular science journal indicating to me that 2.5 percent of men were gay, and 1.5 percent of women were lesbian, and 0.6% and 0.5% respectively were in committed same sex living arrangements. The percentage of left handers is closer to 10%, which must mean that there are still a larger number of heterosexual left handers than homosexual ones.

With the lack of a control group in some pharmacuetical companies' testing proceedures where it concerns left-handers, it appears that there is a bias against the left-hander. This too might be contributing to the higher percentage of homosexual left-handers. The way that left handers carry themselves in conversations, sometimes seems dishonest, or appears as though the lefthander is withholding information; when in fact, they just might not know how to be absolutely honest in the most empirical way, while still staying within the confines of easily interpreted language; causing them to look down to think about it: A sign in right-handers of submission. Abstraction is seen as distraction by a great many people, rather than alternate reasoning, or an emphasis on a different part of the scenario. Subtle things like this difference affect an evaluator's clinical objectivity, and what might seem out of sorts for the right-hander who lives in an environment that scarcely necessitates an adaptation, just might be well within the limits for a left-handed abstract random genius. After enough of a man's freedom of thought gets bound, what's one more label mean? What does he care of what you think about what he is?

Mr. Anonymous

Empirical observation: at the last three places I've worked in, more than 1/2 of the developers were left-handed... -- DavidPostill

What really annoys me is the RightHandBias? in this world. The PeeCee keyboard has the numeric keypad on the right, where I never use it. The enter key is conveniently on the right too.

Actually, lots of people think that having the numeric keypad on the right is a benefit to left handed people. Indeed many people recommend that right handed people use the mouse in the left hand just so they have their right hand free for the numeric keypad: http://www.knowwareglobal.com/art/hand_mouse.htm. -- Jez Humble

With a mouse, you can change the buttons over, which really confuses RightHanders? who borrow your PC because they are less adaptable than LeftHanders are forced to be. Otherwise, the mouse is HandNeutral?.

Then I started using PocketPC. With the little icons on the top right hand corner you have to cover the screen with your hand to reach the close or okay icons with the stylus. Which means that you can't see the screen. This is really annoying. I even used an HP PocketPc which had a handy stylus holder - on the right.

Then there are those keyboards with built in mouse pads - between the useless numeric keypad and the handist enter key. What idiot designed those? Answer: a right-handed idiot.

What annoys me the most is when simple things that are inherently HandNeutral? are made into Handist objects. Stupid things like the designs of mugs - the patterns almost always assume that you are right handed. Cake forks tend to have a blade down one side - guess which. Packs of cards. Fan them out with your left hand and you can't see the mark in the corner telling you what they are. Kettles - the ones with an indicator to tell you how full they are. If you use them with the left hand, the indicator faces away from you. This really annoys me. Cameras. The shutter release is always in the right.

Most packs of cards I use have the number in the top left corner. If you fan them out with your left thumb they are visible. I have personally always thought this to be biased towards left handers (and no i am not right handed)

Where would you put the shutter button? The center? You'd get lots of photos of your fingers.

at least - a left-handed camera https://shop.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/acatalog/products/camera354.html

AndAnotherThing?. In banks, when they chain the pen to the counter. They do it with just too short a length of chain to reach the left of the counter. Like they cant afford to spend the extra on the length of chain, when it is your money in any case.

The one thing I like about living in the UK is that the cars seem to have been designed by a left-hander, so you use the gear shift with the left hand.

I would guess that the real reason is that the steering wheel is on the right, so the gear shift lever, which is kept on the centerline for simplicity, now sits to the left of the driver. So'd you'd need to postulate a left-handed monarch who decreed that all traffic would go to the left side of the road for this to be a conscious decision. -- RationalRightHander?

-- AnnoyedLeftHander?

Alas, I am also left-handed. We be a handful. -- JoshKnight?

Actually, IIRC, there used to be a time when everyone drove / rode on the left side of the road. This way, you'd have your (RightHanded?) sword ready to slash at any enemy that comes towards you. For similar reasons, spiral staircases always turn clockwise. However, NapoleonBonaparte, who's been blamed for more nonsense like the meter, was LeftHanded and ordered that in his empire (which didn't include England) people should drive / walk / ride on the right side of the road. Thus, most of Europe changed and never changed back. IIRC (again), one or more of the Scandinavian countries changed relatively recently.

Is it true that in the UK, left-hand turns are as easy as right-hand turns are in the US?

Why not? In my experience, no difference.

are we still talking cars, or was that a political q? ;)

If the shoe fits!

Left turns are not always as easy as right turns in the US. In some parts of the US, it is legal to turn right at a red light whereas a red light may not be passed legally under any normal circumstances in the UK.

Not all of these problems are due to right-hand bias; some are simply due to stupid design.

As a right-hander, I'd actually prefer that the numeric keypad be to the left of the keyboard, so that I don't have to reach so far to get to the mouse.

I'm not sure that Enter-key-on-the-right is a boon to righties. I probably use the TAB and CAPS LOCK keys a lot more often than I use ENTER. And most of those special keys on the right have to be hit with the little finger, and I doubt the dominant hand little finger is much better than the other little finger.

Mice are not always hand-neutral. Many are "ergonomically designed" to match the shape of a hand.

But I have some questions: is it really that difficult for a left-hander to use a camera shutter button on the right? Is it really better to be able to shift gears with the dominant hand (I would think it is preferable that the steering wheel be in the dominant hand).

-- KrisJohnson

Not all of these problems are due to right-hand bias; some are simply due to stupid design. That is true. Sadly, the majority of designers seems to be oblivious to the problem.

I think that LeftHanders are forced to adapt :( They have to learn to use right-handed things in a right-handed world. They used to be downright persecuted. They would be beaten at school for trying to write with a pen in the left hand (over fifty years ago). It also used to be the case that the number of patients with mental problems used to be disproportionately left-handed. I think that these facts might be related. Does anyone have any recent figures? Thankfully, we no longer punish people for being left-handed, but there still remains the thoughtless poor design that disadvantages them.

Was most of this site writen by right handers? I find a lot of the complaints are innocuous and pointless. It is not hard to adapt to things using things such as the enter key with your right hand! I would also think we may have an advantage in having to be adaptable, it prepares you better for all the little problems in life. For example, I know some people who are right handed and often get left and right mixed up, this may be due to dislexia but having been constantly aware of being different I never confuse the two. This could all possibly contribute to lefties being more spatially aware too. davecrossley1@hotmail.com

I have become adept at using the mouse with either hand, and I do not actually swap the buttons on my mouse. I usually use it left handed but with right handed buttons. This makes it easier to use other people's machines, and allows them to use mine. I do have problems with so called ergonomically designed mice, especially the ones with fast double click buttons on the side. These are a nightmare to use left handed.

On the question of the camera - It does not cause me any difficulty. I am right-eyed. I am also right-footed.

I would be curious to know if the proportion of the population who are left-handed is any different in cultures who write from right to left.

-- AnnoyedLeftHander?

I write and throw left-handed, but swing a bat and use a mouse right-handed. Wonder how that happens... -- JeanPhilippeBelanger

I was ambidextrous and writing from an early age. As soon as I started my first day of school, the teachers had to choose the hand that was predominant. They did this by handing me a ball and watching which hand I reached out and grabbed with. I'm now right-handed. ;) I've also always driven in countries that drive on the left and find it easier to keep the dominant hand on the steering wheel (there's more chance of a bump in the road killing you than of a gear-grind doing so). -- MichaelAbbott

Other items that are right-hand biased:

How are rulers biased against lefties?

This is perhaps not the fault of the ruler, but here's the explanation. Typically when the ruler is held to be able to read the markings, zero is on the left and the numbers increase to the right. Say you have something you wish you draw or mark using a ruler. You put the 0 edge at the starting point, and wish to draw a line or make a mark along the edge of the rule X centimeters away. For a righty, you hold the ruler down with the left hand between the origin and X. Your right hand can then easily mark or draw from origin to X. On the other hand, if you are left-handed, you must hold the ruler with the right hand, and if your hand is between the origin and X, then mark with an awkward reach across your right hand. Yes, there are specially-made rulers available with the 0 on the right end and the numbers increasing to the left. Any right-handers that doubt this bias should try it with one of these special rulers. -- StevenNewton

How are ATMs biased against lefties?

The card slot is typically on the right side, so that left-handers would have to cross their arm across their chest awkwardly to insert their card. -- a right-hander

Isn't the guitar symmetrical? Couldn't you setup the strings in "reverse"? (I do agree that books teach it in a particular way...)

Actually, no, the guitar looks symmetrical, but is often braced (at least good ones are) so that the strings should only be strung in one way because of the difference in tension.

Confirmed - even the "ordinary" acoustic guitar has the bridge higher to accommodate the larger low-pitched strings vs the thinner high-pitch strings. Look carefully at most guitars, though, and you'll see a lot more subtleties. The location of the tuning pegs if they are all on one side as with the famous Fender models. Not that it's impossible to flip them (JimiHendrix? did it), but it's not symmetrical. The location of the strike plate behind the strings is particular for a right-hander playing downward. The location of the amplifier cord plug. -- StevenNewton

Furthermore, it isn't entirely a bad thing for a left-handed person to play right-handed. This means that your dominant hand is on the fingerboard. (MichaelHedges? played like that, and it worked quite well. :-)

As a long time guitar player, I have found that although I am right-handed, it is my left hand that has much more fine grained control of individual finger movements. The left hand definitely has the more challenging role when playing guitar. I would think left-handers would have a natural advantage.

I know this certainly is the case for lefties. My father is left-handed but uses the mouse with his right hand. Unless you do Photoshop, you do not need massive precise response in your mouse hand. So he can write and use the mouse at the same time.

Or, mouse on the right, bowl of cereal on the left. Very useful in the mornings.

I knew there would be a link to DesignPatterns somewhere. I worked on a project writing software for a machine which had two 'ports'. These were known as the left and right ports. Sadly, someone (who didn't understand OOD) coded these everywhere as left_... right_... The code for each port had been cut and pasted, with the word LEFT replaced with RIGHT. There were even messages INIT_LEFT_PORT, INIT_RIGHT_PORT ... I was amazed. My protests were ignored. I asked what would happen if another port were added to the hardware. And what is wrong with sending an INIT_PORT message to a port object?

The right, er, I mean, correct thing to do is to have n ports. The ports did not care if they were left or right. These were just labels. The same code should have been used to run both ports. Handedness can really get in the way sometimes. In the end, I left the company. Was I right?

-- AnnoyedLeftHander?

You were right about the code being badly written to use only 2 named ports, but the link to left/right-handedness is tenuous, as the code could just as well been PORT_A/PORT_B, with the same flaws.

How about INIT_PORT_PORT and INIT_STARBOARD_PORT? When you add support for object orientation and multiple ports, make sure your code can handle exceptions like cantWriteLeftPort and noRightPortsLeft. -- SteveHowell

''I complained about the right-handed biased world until I saw a man who had no hands."

Left-handed whopper. I can't tell if they are kidding or not: http://www.burgerking.com/company/press_releases/04_31_98a.htm. -- StevenNewton

( http://web.archive.org/web/20020201185014/http://www.burgerking.com/company/press_releases/04_31_98a.htm )

Considering the press release is dated the day before April 1? :)

A few comments about that.

sigh - idiots. They can't even get a joke right.

How are bicycles left-handed?

Does the question mean how are they biased against left-handedness? Let's assume so. Bicycles all have the sprockets and chains on the right-hand side from a rider's perspective. If there are exceptions someone point me to a source. Sometimes, when riding, the chain will catch while shifting, or something will get caught in it - a rider must reach down with the right hand to clear the problem. For a lefty, this is sub-optimal.

Disagree. I'd rather clear a chain problem with my off-hand (left), so my on-hand (right) can continue to control the handlebars. If it's bad enough to need my on-hand, I'm gonna stop and step off anyway.

The only major asymmetrical elements are the brake levers and shifters (where present), and the left brake lever usually controls the front brake, which is far more effective for stopping. Having the chain and gears on the right side of the bike shouldn't make much of a difference with handedness. -- SckotVokes

I must be left-footed also, I want to stand to the right of the bike and swing my left leg up and over. All the bikes I've seen have the kickstand on the left side though. Admittedly, I've never tried to remount one on the right side. -- ShaeErisson

I built a lefthanded bike. You can see it at http://www.bangham.com/bike.html. It is fixed wheel, as a freewheel on the left would force you to pedal backwards... BenBangham

Has anyone heard of Market Based Economy? If someone is manufacturing a product and the product can be used by only one hand, would the product be most economically made and distributed for left-handers, or for right-handers.

See LeftHandersTooCostly.

When playing the guitar, the most difficult functions are carried out with the left-hand (fingering) while the right hand does the picking. It seems to me that the guitar is for those who are either left or right handed, but favor those who are left-handed.

Claiming that guitar players carry out the most difficult functions with the left hand is a silly over-generalization at best. Furthermore, the assumption that a standard guitar was left-handed totally clashes with empirical data. 'Lefties' don't find learning how to play easier; many feel they have to adapt to a 'righty' instrument, just as when using a pair of 'righty' scissors etc. Many left-handed persons find that so annoying that they play guitars which are built and held exactly the other way round. Of course they mostly do this because they're either learning from a 'lefty' who also has this kind of guitar, or because they're learning from a 'righty' and are used to mirroring what the 'righties' do. However, this just proves that a standard guitar is more easily handled by right-handed players, or at least that there's no significant difference.

I have also noticed that left-handers write in such a way as to more able to see the work of their hand, and so usually they have superior penmanship.

When handwriting English text, there's a bottom-left-to-top-right slant to the letters. Right-handers place their hands to the bottom right, and the rotational motion of the hand feeds into the slant nicely. For left-handers to achieve the same slant, they have to move their hand around to the top left. This frequently causes smudges, as the hand rubs against pencil or wet ink.

Are you right-handed? I'm a leftie and don't have the problems you describe.

I do. At school in UK, we typically are taught to write with fountain pens and smudging is a problem unless you rotate your hand to either over or under the text. I've seen both styles in roughly equal numbers but I've yet to come across a left-hander that writes 'normally', i.e. hand moving across the text.

Go with what you've got, there are advantages and disadvantage both ways.

Scissors are a really irritating problem. In fact, there are two problems. Firstly, some scissors (especially good ones) have shaped handles that dig into the thumb if held in the left hand. Secondly, when holding to the left, the offsetting of the blades (one above the other) means that one cannot see where one is cutting. This means the paper must be held at an awkward position to the right which looks and feels clumsy.

Three problems: gripping the handles imposes a torque on the offset blades that - when applied by a right-handed grip - draws the blades together so that the paper is guillotined between them. In a left-handed grip the blades are drawn apart, leaving a gap that gives the paper room to simply get creased instead of cut.

Having read this entire page through I do not find significant problems in anything that has been described. I am left handed and, for example, I can jump on a bicycle from either side, I use the mouse in my left hand, left clicking with my middle finger, and I use biros so my work doesn't smudge. As for things like ATM's and rulers, learn to adapt! ATM's (or cash points as we English call them) are not biased, it is no great hardship to have to reach across or, God forbid, have to use your right hand to insert your card! If I can master using it by the age of 18 I'm sure anyone can. I understand the argument with rulers but I have always used them going from the required length to zero (surely more convenient seeing as you then always stop at the same point?) A final note: there are far bigger disadvantages in the world than being left handed (not that I consider myself disadvantaged, I'm proud to be leftie) so will all you others please stop complaining about minor things and get on with your lives please?!!! davecrossley1@hotmail.com

Crazyhead; having scissors make for right-handers is both painful and ineffective. There really is not much room for argument there. Some things are a stretch, but others are really bothersome.

The actual problems with left-handed people really comes in machineshops where the equipment is designed for right-handed people. In the late 90's an actual study (if someone else heard about it a reference to that study would be good) showed that left-handed people we much more likely to be injured on those machines than right handed people wether in controlling the machinery or when performing maintenance of it.

BTW, whoever said left-handed adapt was right. I'm left handed and it feels weird to use a computer any other way than a right handed would (altough contrary to my fellow co-workers... if the mouse is swapped it'll just take me a second to use it... where they will spend the whole 3mins changing the computer settings) -- JeanMarcLagace

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