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A person who is left-handed uses his or her left hand more than the right hand. The activity most commonly used to define handedness is handwriting. Not all left-handed people favor their left hand for all activities, and many exhibit some degree of ambidexterity.



  In 1998, a study suggested that approximately 7 to 10 percent of the adult population was left-handed. Studies indicate that left-handedness is more common in males than females.[1] Left-handedness, in comparison to the general population, also appears to occur more frequently in identical twins,[2][3] and several groups of neurologically disordered individuals (such as people suffering from epilepsy,[4] Down's Syndrome,[5] autism,[6] mental retardation[7] and dyslexia). Statistically, the identical twin of a left-handed person has a 76 percent chance of being left-handed, identifying the cause(s) as partly genetic and partly environmental.[8]

Causes of left-handedness

See main article at handedness.
  • Hand orientation is developed in unborn children, most commonly determined by observing which hand is predominantly licked or held close to the mouth.[citation needed] Current genetic research suggests there is a genetic factor involved.
  • In 2007, researchers discovered LRRTM1, the first gene linked to increased odds of being left-handed. The researchers also claim that possessing this gene slightly raises the risk of psychotic mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.[9]
  • Long-term impairment of the right hand: People with long-term impairment of the right hand are more likely to become left-handed, even after their right hand heals.[citation needed] Such long term impairment is defined as 6 months or more.
  • Testosterone: Exposure to higher rates of testosterone before birth can lead to a left-handed child.[10] This is the Geschwind theory, named after the neurologist who proposed it, Norman Geschwind. It suggests that variations in levels of testosterone during pregnancy shape the development of the fetal brain. Testosterone suppresses the growth of the left cerebral hemisphere and so more neurons migrate to the right hemisphere. The highly developed right hemisphere is now better suited to function as the center of language and handedness. The fetus is more likely to become left-handed, since the right hemisphere controls the left half of the body. The theory goes on to tie the exposure to higher levels of testosterone and the resultant right-hemisphere dominance to auto-immune disorders, learning disorders, dyslexia, and stuttering, as well as increased spatial ability.
  • Ultrasound theory: Ultrasound scans may affect the brain of unborn children, causing higher rates of left-handedness in mothers who have ultrasound scans compared to those who do not. This is probably based on a few studies [11][12] where this relation is studied. In one of these the authors claim that "...we found a possible association between routine ultrasonography in utero and subsequent non-right handedness among children in primary school." However later in the same article the authors state that "Thus the association ... may be due to chance" and "The result was not significant, suggesting that the study had insufficient statistical power to resolve the relationship between ultrasonography and subsequent left handedness in the child"

Social stigma and repression of left-handedness

Negative associations of left-handedness in language

There are many colloquial terms used to refer to a left-handed person. Some are just slang or jargon words (in some parts of the English-speaking world 'cack-handed' is just a synonym for left-handed, though see also below), while others may be offensive or demeaning, either in context or in origin. In more technical contexts, 'sinistral' may be used in place of 'left-handed' and 'sinistrality' in place of 'left-handedness'. Both of these technical terms derive from sinister, a Latin word meaning 'left'.[13] (The word 'parasinistral' has been coined to refer to people born left-handed, but forced to write with their right hand at school.[citation needed])

Some left-handed people consider themselves oppressed, even to the point of prejudice. Etymology often lends weight to the argument:

In Hebrew, as well as in other ancient Semitic and Mesopotamian languages, the term "hand" was a symbol of power or custody. [14] The left hand symbolized the power to shame society, and was used as a metaphor for misforture, natural evil, or punishment from the gods. This metaphor survived ancient culture and was integrated into mainstream Christianity by early Catholic theologians as Ambrose of Milan [15] to modern Protestant theologians such as Karl Barth [16] to attribute natural evil to God in explaining God's omnipotence over the universe.

Modern meanings evolved from use of these terms in the ancient languages. In many European languages, "right" is not only a synonym for correctness, but also stands for authority and justice: German and Dutch recht, French droit, Spanish derecho; in most Slavic languages the root prav is used in words carrying meanings of correctness or justice. Being right-handed has also historically been thought of as being skilful: the Latin word for right-handed is "dexter", as in dexterity; indeed, the Spanish term diestro means both "right-handed" and "skilful". In Irish, "deas" means "right side" and "nice". "Ciotóg" is the left hand and is related to "ciotach" meaning "awkward"[17]; in French, "gauche" means "left" and is also a synonym of "maladroit", meaning "clumsy".

Meanwhile, the English word "sinister" comes from the Latin word "sinister,-tra,-trum", which originally meant "left" but took on meanings of "evil" or "unlucky" by the Classical Latin era. Alternatively, "sinister" comes from the Latin word sinus meaning "pocket": a traditional Roman toga had only one pocket, located on the left side for the convenience of a right-handed wearer.[citation needed] The contemporary Italian word sinistra has both meanings of sinister and left. The Spanish siniestra has both, too, although the 'left' meaning is less common and is usually expressed by 'izquierda,'[18] a Basque word. The left side is often associated with awkwardness and clumsiness, as shown in the French gauche, and adroit, droit meaning right, and adroit meaning skilled. The Dutch expression "twee linkerhanden hebben" and the Bulgarian expression "dve levi ratse" ("to have two left hands") both mean being clumsy. The common phrase, to have "two left feet" means to be bad at dancing. As these are all very old words/phrases, they support theories indicating that the predominance of right-handedness is an extremely old phenomenon. In Portuguese, the most common word for left-handed person, canhoto, was once used to identify the devil, and canhestro, a related word, means "clumsy".

In ancient China, the left has been the "bad" side. The adjective "left" (左 Mandarin: zuǒ) means "improper" or "out of accord". For instance, the phrase "left path" (左道 Mandarin: zuǒdao) stands for illegal or immoral means.

In Norwegian, the expression venstrehåndsarbeid (left-hand work) means "something that is done in a sloppy or unsatisfactory way". Additionally, one of the Norwegian words for left-handed, "keivhendt", comes from Norwegian words meaning wrong handed or not straight handed.

The Hungarian word balfácán means twit. (Bal means left and fácán is for pheasant.) Other synonyms are balfék and balek. However all these are euphemistic versions of the original vulgar word balfasz, combining "bal" and the vulgar name of the male genitals fasz.

In England, left-handed people are sometimes referred to as 'cackhanded', referencing their supposedly clumsy nature.

Even the word "ambidexterity" reflects the bias. Its intended meaning is, "skillful on both sides". However, since it keeps the Latin root "dexter", which means "right", it ends up conveying the idea of being "right-handed at both sides". This bias is also apparent in the lesser-known antonym "ambisinistrous", which means "clumsy on both sides" and derives from the Latin root "sinister."[19]

In Esperanto, the word "left" is rendered maldekstra, literally meaning "opposite of right."A left-handed person is a maldekstrulo. The prefix mal- does not mean "bad", but simply "opposite"; in fact, "generous" translates as malavara, meaning "opposite of greedy." A neologism liva was not accepted by the speakers.


A left-handed individual may be known as a southpaw, particularly in a sports context. It is widely accepted that the term originated in the United States, in the game of baseball.[20] Ballparks are often designed so that the right-handed batter is facing east, in order that the afternoon or evening sun does not shine in his eyes. This means that left-handed pitchers are throwing from the south side. However, the Oxford English Dictionary lists a non-baseball citation for "south paw", meaning a punch with the left hand, as early as 1848,[21] just three years after the first organized baseball game.

In boxing, someone who boxes left-handed is frequently referred to as southpaw. The term is also used to refer to a stance in which the boxer places his right foot in front of his left, so it is possible for a right-handed boxer to box with a southpaw stance. Most boxers, southpaw or otherwise, tend to train with sparring partners who adopt a right-handed stance, which gives southpaws an advantage.

Accessibility of implements and skills


Left-handed people are sometimes placed at a disadvantage by the prevalence of right handed tools in society. Many tools and devices are designed to be comfortably used with the right hand. For example, (right-handed) scissors, a very common tool, are arranged so that the line being cut along can be seen by a right-handed user, but is obscured to a left-handed user. Furthermore, the handles are often molded in a way that is difficult for a left-hander to hold, and extensive use in such cases can lead to varying levels of discomfort. Most importantly, the scissoring or shearing action - how the blades work together (how they are attached at the pivot) - operates correctly for a right-hander, but a left-hander will tend to force the blades apart rather than shearing the target substance. (This is especially awkward if the scissors are loose and/or blunt.) Left-handed scissors do exist; until they have tried cutting with some, many right-handed people do not believe the difficulties experienced by left-handers using right-handed scissors.

The computer mouse is sometimes made to fit the right hand better. Many computer installations have the mouse placed on the right side, making it awkward for left handers to use without moving the mouse to the other side of the keyboard. Some mouse drivers and operating systems allow the user to reconfigure the mouse buttons to reverse their functions. However, being left-handed does not always mean the person uses the mouse on a computer with the left hand; many left-handers can use the mouse right-handed because they learned it that way from the start. Some lefties have claimed that this gives them an advantage because they can use the mouse with their non-dominant hand, leaving their left to do tasks such as taking notes uninterrupted.

While European-style kitchen knives are symmetrical, Japanese kitchen knives have the cutting edge ground asymmetrically, with ratios ranging from 70-30 for the average chef's knife, to 90-10 for professional sushi chef knives; left-handed models are rare, and usually must be specially ordered or custom made. [22]

The lack of left-handed tools and machines in many workplaces is not only a nuisance to many left-handers, but has actually placed them at peril. One example is the band saw, whose standard design is convenient for right-handers but encourages left-handers to pass their arms dangerously close to the cutting blade with every pass of the saw. [23] In fact, some factories have installed left-handed equipment after successful class-action lawsuits on behalf of left-handed employees. [24]

Many well-intentioned companies have manufactured products with left-handers in mind, but have still failed to meet left-handers' needs. For instance, many companies have produced "left-handed scissors" by simply inverting the scissors' handles, making the grip work for the left-hander. Unfortunately, for scissors to function in a truly left-handed manner, their blades must also be mirror-inverted, without which the left-hander is forced to make a "blind cut" because the blade obscures the paper from view. Mundial and Fiskars are companies that have produced truly left-handed scissors, inverting both the blades and the handles.

Left-handed adaptations have even bridged the world of music; guitars are often made especially for lefties, and there have even been inverted pianos where the deepest notes correspond to the rightmost keys instead of the leftmost.[25]

Left-handed golf clubs were one of the earlier, and well-accepted, manifestations of a special version of an implement; the most notable left-handed participant being Phil Mickleson.


It can be difficult for left-handed children to learn to write if the teacher does not take the student's left-handedness into account. In fact, even in the later 20th century, some UK schools were discouraging children to write with their left-hand, often seriously affecting the child's development. When properly done, left-handed writing is a mirror image to that of the right-hander, making the teaching process confusing (if right-handed) for the teacher of a left-handed student. The result is that many left-handed children learn to write with their hand curled around the pen so that it can meet the paper at the same angle as the right hander, rather than simply tilt the paper the opposite way.[citation needed] Once this habit is formed, it is difficult to break. This curling of the hand results in the heel of the palm being placed behind the writing, forcing the writer to lift it off the paper and making the grip even more awkward. In addition, constantly lifting and replacing the hand over fresh ink often causes smudging, causing problems for many left-handed students, especially in exam situations. When the left hand is held correctly, it is below the writing, as is typical for right-handers.

However, left-handed people who speak Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Hebrew or any other right to left language, do not have the same difficulties with writing. The right to left nature of these languages prevents left-handers from running their hand on the ink as happens with left to right languages. Still, due to these alphabets being developed for right-handed people, the characters are still often more easily matched to a right-handed profile.

For these reasons, many left-handed people have poor handwriting. Styles of writing in which the relative thicknesses of the up- and down-strokes (as made by a right-handed person) are considered important are virtually impossible to produce correctly for a leftie; left-handed nibs, which look most peculiar as they are curved at the end, were produced, though many lefties consider them awkward. Fortunately, the decline in the use of the fountain-pen in general, in favour of pen types which produce a line whose thickness is independent of the direction of movement, have rendered this matter largely academic, except among enthusiasts of calligraphy.


The vast majority of firearms are designed for right-handed shooters, with the operating handle, magazine release, and/or safety mechanisms set up for manipulation by the right hand, and fired cartridge cases ejected to the right. Also, scopes and sights may be mounted in such a way as to require the shooter to place the rifle against his or her right shoulder. A left-handed shooter must either purchase a left-handed firearm (which are manufactured in smaller numbers and are generally more expensive and/or harder to obtain), shoot a right-handed gun left-handed (which presents certain difficulties, such as the controls being improperly located for them or shell cases being ejected towards their body), or learn to shoot right-handed (which may pose additional problems, primarily that of ocular dominance). Fortunately for left-handed people, modern guns feature more ambidextrous or right/left-handed reversible operating parts than their predecessors. Bullpup rifles are particularly problematic for lefties unless they can be reconfigured, since empty shells would be ejected fast and straight into the shooter's face and cheek potentially causing injury. Lever action and pump action firearms present fewer difficulties for lefties than bolt action weapons do.

An example of an ambidextrous weapon is the FN P90, which has the magazine inserted into the top of the gun. The shells are ejected out of the bottom, making the gun usable by either right or left handed marksmen.

Left-handedness and intelligence

Some studies argue a correlation between left-handedness and creativity/intelligence.

In his book Right-Hand, Left-Hand,[26] Chris McManus of University College London, argues that the proportion of left-handers is rising and left-handed people as a group have historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers. He says that left-handers' brains are structured differently in a way that widens their range of abilities, and the genes that determine left-handedness also govern development of the language centers of the brain.

McManus also says that the increase in the 20th century of people identifying as left-handed could produce a corresponding intellectual advance and a leap in the number of mathematical, sporting, or artistic geniuses.

In 2006, researchers at Lafayette College and Johns Hopkins University in a study found that left-handed men are 15 percent richer than right-handed men for those who attended college, and 26 percent richer if they graduated. The wage difference is still unexplainable and does not appear to apply to women.[27]

Prevalence with age

In Britain, a study in the 1970s found that around 11 percent of men and women aged 15-24 were left-handed, compared to just 3 percent in the 55-64 age category.[28] The study suggests that 'cultural pressures' for right-hand use were prevalent in the industrial societies in the 18C and 19C (with the advancement of mass literacy), and that those pressures were only significantly relaxed in the 'later decades' of the 20th century. The study also refers to tests on mediaeval skeletons that show evidence of hand-usage similar to today's, which suggests that hand-prejudice was not always part of UK society.

Right-Hand, Left-Hand author, Chris McManus, also suggests a number of factors that may have led to the modern increase in left-hand usage:

  • Left-handers suffered severe prejudice during the 18th and 19th centuries and it was often "beaten out" of people
  • In adulthood, left-handers were often shunned by society, resulting in fewer marrying and reproducing
  • As prejudice declined in the 20th century, the number of natural left-handers who stayed left-handed increased
  • The rising age of motherhood contributed as, statistically, older mothers are more likely to give birth to left-handed children.[citation needed]

Statistics show that older people are less likely to be left-handed than their younger counterparts — the percentages of left-handed people sharply drop off with increased age. In the U.S., 12 percent of 20 year olds are left-handed, while only 5 percent of 50 year olds and less than 1 percent of people over 80 are. [29]

A study[30]published in 1991 claimed that these statistics indicate that left-handed people's lifespans are shorter than those of their right-handed counterparts by as much as 9 years. The authors suggested that this may be the result of left-handed people being more likely to die in accidents as a result of their "affliction", which renders them clumsier and ill-equipped to survive in a right-handed world. Many subsequent studies have shown no evidence that left-handed people have reduced longevity compared to right-handed people[31][32][33][34][35]

According to The Left-Hander Syndrome[36] most people were only forced to write with their right hand and allowed to continue being left-handed in most other respects indicating that the decline in older left-handers is not from being forced or switching in later life.

Dory Previn wrote a song in which she explains that she was born left-handed but nuns in her school "broke [her] of it"; later in life, she went back to using "my left, my natural hand," and discovered her musical talent, among other things.

Left-handers in sports and games

There are many left-handers in sports; however, a written rule in polo states that one must not hold a stick in his or her left arm.[37] There are very few left-handed professionals in polo; all are required to use their right hand.[citation needed] Jai-Alai is another sport where left-handed play is forbidden.

In field hockey, right-handed play is effectively required (though not explicitly so) because one rule states that the ball cannot be played with the back of the stick and left hand sticks are not allowed. The reason for this is because when attempting to tackle the opponent's stick, the left hander would have to go through his/her legs,[38] while another specifies that the stick be flat on its left side,[39] which would be the "natural" side for a right-handed player, but when playing with the stick in one hand (playing reverse), this can give an advantage back to the left-handers. Having all players play with the same handedness is essential to keeping hockey a non-contact sport: a left-hander and a right-hander competing for the ball would tend to collide. All-left-hander matches are possible, but rare. Despite this rarity in left-handed play, a surprising number of high level players are left-handed. It is likely that this is because left-handers have their dominant hand at the top of the stick where it may provide an advantage for stick control.

Being left-handed can be an advantage in many sports. For example, in fencing, a right-handed fencer might be more accustomed to facing another right-handed fencer simply because being right-handed is more common. A left-handed fencer might also be more accustomed to facing a right-handed opponent for the same reasons. Therefore, when a right-handed fencer faces a left-handed opponent, the right-hander is not as used to fighting a left-hander as the left-hander is used to fighting a right-hander, causing a noticeable advantage. The same advantage may be present for most one-on-one or face-to-face sporting events.

Baseball is particularly suited to left-handed players for several reasons: left-handed batters are already a step or two closer to first base in their batter's box before they even hit the ball and are more likely to beat out close plays, although a left-handed hitter faces third base and has to pivot before running to first. Many baseball parks have shorter right field fences which gives left-handed sluggers a few more home runs that would otherwise be outs. And finally, most pitchers are right-handed which gives the left-handed hitter a better angle to see the ball and causes curve and sliding pitches to move towards them, rather than away. That is why a good switch hitter is considered valuable. Also, it is generally preferred (but not required) that first-basemen be left-handed to give them a better tagging angle on pick-off moves and more so because on most balls hit in the field of play, their gloved right hand would be on its forehand as opposed to the backhand. Left-handed fielders almost never play third base, shortstop, or second base, however, because the throwing position towards first base is awkward for a lefty. Catchers are virtually always right-handed as well, because it is difficult to throw to third base in an attempt to catch a base-stealer if you are left-handed. The only career catcher to ever throw with his left hand was Jack Clements, who caught for 17 years in the 19th century. A left-handed pitcher naturally faces toward first base, and thus can easily keep an eye on a runner trying to steal second. However, a right-handed pitcher has a more natural body movement in throwing the ball towards first base, when attempting to pick off the runner. One player, Charlie Grimm, or "Jolly Cholly," was known as "baseball's only left-handed banjo player"--rare indeed when one considers how difficult it is to play most stringed musical instruments left-handed.[citation needed]

In football (soccer), left-handed players are often more skilled at playing with the left foot (though being left-handed does not necessarily result in being left-footed), which makes them valuable as they can play better on the left side of the field than right-handed players. Interestingly, in the sport of ice hockey, there are many more left-handed shooters. When shooting, the player's weaker hand is in the middle of the stick, and the dominant hand is at the top of the stick. When skating fast, or stretching to reach a far away puck, a player will often use only the top hand on the stick. The majority of right-dominant players shoot left-handed, and likewise, the majority of left-dominant players shoot right, allowing them to use their dominant hand when wielding the stick one-handed. The majority of goaltenders also catch with their left hand.

In tennis, left-handers impart spin on the ball that is opposite of that which a right hander would hit. As a result, right-handed players (who are accustomed to playing right handers) have difficulty dealing with a left-hander's shots which curve in a direction opposite to what they are accustomed to facing. Rafael Nadal, despite being right-handed, plays left-handed tennis after being encouraged to do so by his coach for this very reason.

In American football, the most famous left-handed players are usually quarterbacks, such as Kenny Stabler, Michael Vick, Steve Young, Boomer Esiason, Matt Leinart, Mark Brunell, and Jim Zorn. Vick may be an exception though, since he is normally right handed, but throws with his left, despite there being many right handed quarterbacks who have had much NFL success.

In basketball, left handed players have a distinct advantage on both ends of the court. On defense, it easier to play against a right-handed player since the defender typically angles the left side of his body towards the dribbler to both force him to dribble with his left hand, and to raise his own left hand in the event of a jumpshot. Conversely if that offensive player is left handed, the standard defensive stance would favor them as they are not being forced to use their weaker hand. In fact, dribbling with the left hand is a highly valued skill in basketball for this very reason. When shooting, since the defender will typically raise his left hand to attempt the block the shot (since his left hand will be closer to the shooter's right-handed shot) a left-handed shooter will have more room to see the basket and attempt the shot.

In water polo, being left-handed allows a player to have an easier time shooting from the right side of the field, as having their shooting hand towards the middle of the field allows them to whip the ball around the keeper and into the upper left corner, a shot which a right-hander in the same position would find impossible. Also, when driving into the center from the right side, a left-handed player can take a dry pass and immediately shoot, whereas a right-handed player would require a wet pass and have to try and chip the goalie on a pop shot. This is why many teams like to have left-handed players, and why they tend to only play on the right (right-handed players have all similar advantages on the left side of the pool).

Boxing appears to be something of an exception to the rule that being a southpaw confers an advantage. Until Karl Mildenberger fought Muhammad Ali in 1966, there had not been a southpaw challenger for the heavyweight title since James J. Corbett, aka "Gentleman Jim" in 1892, and there have only been three southpaw heavyweight title holders since then: Michael Moorer, Corrie Sanders, and the current WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev. However, it is worth distinguishing between the southpaw stance and being left-handed, because some trainers will train a naturally left-handed boxer to fight in an orthodox stance, not merely for convenience but because there may be an advantage in having the jab delivered with the stronger hand. Hence a number of boxers who fought in an orthodox stance may have been converted left-handers.

In cricket, left-handed players have thrived over the years. Many technically sound batsmen have been left-handed. As of mid 2006, each and every of the Test playing nations have at least one left-handed batsman in their side. One of the reasons for this is that having a mix of right and left-handers tends to disrupt the bowler's accuracy, because when both a right-handed batsman and a left-handed batsman are batting, the bowler must adjust the line he is bowling when the batsmen change ends. Some famous left-handed cricketers include yesteryear greats like Graeme Pollock, Allan Border, David Gower, Gary Sobers, Wasim Akram, Mike Whitney and Darren Lehmann; and contemporary greats Brian Lara, Saeed Anwar, Sourav Ganguly, Sanath Jayasuriya, Adam Gilchrist, Graeme Smith, Mike Hussey and Matthew Hayden. It is also well-known that Sachin Tendulkar and Darren Gough both write left-handed. However, many of these players are actually right-handed but bat left-handed.

In ten-pin bowling, left-handed bowlers often need to buy bowling shoes with a sliding sole on the right shoe (the right foot is the one used for release), unless both right and left shoes have sliding soles. There is a stereotype that left-handers start from the outside of the lane and do a stroker style release.Left-handers also have a vast advantage during league and tournament play in ten-pin bowling. As many games are bowled on the same lanes, the oil is dried up and smeared around. This happens less on the left side of the lane as there are, typically, less bowlers bowling left-handed. Left-handed bowlers include Rafael Nepomuceno, Earl Anthony, Parker Bohn III, Jason Couch and Patrick Allen.

In Ultimate Frisbee, a left-hander can be more readily able to throw around their marker's body (also known as 'breaking the force') on the forehand side due to being able to throw from a more off-balanced position and the defence not setting a mark symmetrically on each side of the body. This has the result of opening up the pitch for their recievers.

Minor sports where left-handedness is a significant advantage include Eton Fives, where the buttress is on the left, the ideal serve placing the ball at the bottom corner - almost impossible for a right-handed player to reach. Another is Real (Royal) Tennis, in which the serve along the penthouse is far easier with the left hand than with the right.

Left handed musicians

In music, guitar great Jimi Hendrix was left-handed. He played his restrung Fender Stratocaster upside down to accommodate his handedness. Paul McCartney of The Beatles is left-handed as well; when he first played for John Lennon, he played Lennon's right-handed guitar upside-down. Freddie Mercury, pianist, song writer and lead singer of Queen was left-handed but he wrote with his right hand possibly because parents in India discouraged their children using their left hand. Although an extremely quiet and shy child growing up in India he excelled in piano, drawing, and sports. Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain was also a well known left handed guitarist. Albert King and BB King are also left handed; however the latter plays right sided guitars while the former usually played a Flying V strung for a right hander but with a left handed stance (Upside down). Modern bluesman Eric Gale is also influenced by this topsy turvy style. Zacky Vengeance of Avenged Sevenfold is adamantly left-handed, with the band's classic stance being him and fellow (right-sided) guitarist Synyster Gates standing back to back with their guitars pointed in the same direction. Stevie Ray Vaughn was not left sided, but his Fender "#1 "Stratocaster featured a left-handed vibrato unit.

The controllers for Guitar Hero and its sequels can also be reconfigured for left-sided users. However , the whammy bar and Start/Select buttons are now in unorthodox positions (above the strum bar).

In video games, the Nintendo character Link is often left-handed. In some 2-D releases, such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, he alternates hands when facing left and right, but this is due to sprite mirroring. Various other references are made to his handedness in media other than games; at the beginning of the Four Swords Plus (Four Swords Adventures in North America) manga, Link is referred to as the “left-handed hero” after defeating pirates that were raiding a Hylian town. However, in the animated TV series, Link is right-handed. In games, Link is nearly always portrayed as left-handed. Link's figurine description in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker lists his "manual preference" as left. The GameCube version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess preserves Link's left-handedness; however, in the Wii version, series creator Shigeru Miyamoto observed at E3 that most people used their right hand to swing the Wii remote, which swings Link's sword. Thus, it was decided to flip the game, causing all game maps to become mirror images of their GameCube counterparts, and resulting in Link being right-handed to more naturally fit the tendencies of most Wii players.


Studies show that left-handedness does not necessarily correspond with "left-sidedness" (such as using your left foot to kick with), though most left-handed people tend to have "left-sidedness". The same effect holds with ocular dominance. It has also been found that people have dominant sides of the body, such as the eye, foot, and ear. Many people believe that firing a rifle depends on hand dominance; however, in actual fact, it depends on eye dominance.

Possible effects in humans on thinking

There are many theories on how being left-handed affects the way a person thinks. One theory divides left- and right-handed thinkers into two camps: visual simultaneous vs. linear sequential.[40][41][42][43]

According to this theory, right-handed people are thought to process information using a "linear sequential" method in which one thread must complete its processing before the next thread can be started.

Left-handed persons are thought to process information using a "visual simultaneous" method in which several threads can be processed simultaneously. Another way to view this is such: Suppose there were one thousand pieces of popcorn and one of them was colored pink. The right-handed person — using the linear sequential processing style — would look at the popcorn one at a time until they encountered the pink one. The left-handed person would spread out the pieces of popcorn and visually look at all of them to find the one that was pink. A side effect of these differing styles of processing is that right handed persons need to complete one task before they can start the next. Left-handed people, by contrast, are capable and comfortable switching between tasks. This seems to suggest that left-handed people have an excellent ability to multi-task, and anecdotal evidence suggests that there are more creative stems due to this ability to multi-task.

Right-handed people process information using "analysis", which is the method of solving a problem by breaking it down to its pieces and analyzing the pieces one at a time. By contrast, left-handed people process information using "synthesis", which is the method of solving a problem by looking at the whole and trying to use pattern-matching to solve the problem. [44]

The hypothesis that left-handed people are predisposed to visual-based thought has been validated by a variety of evidence. In the 2004 book Brains That Work a Little Bit Differently[45], researchers Allen D. Bragdon and David Gamon, Ph.D., briefly described some of the current research on handedness and its significance. "Handedness researchers Coren and Clare Porac have shown that left-handed university students are more likely to major in visually-based, as opposed to language-based subjects. Another sample of 103 art students found an astounding 47 percent were left- or mixed-handed." [page 76]

Ultimately, being left-handed is not an all-or-nothing situation. The processing styles operate on a continuum where some people are more visual-simultaneous and others are more linear-sequential.

See also

  • Right-handed
  • Handedness
  • Chirality (chemistry)
  • Chirality (mathematics)
  • Chirality (physics)
  • The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea
  • Geschwind-Galaburda Hypothesis
  • Situs inversus
  • Handedness and sexual orientation
  • List of musicians who play left handed


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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Left-handedness". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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