Surprising Facts About Left-handed People

Left Handers’ Day August 13
Human beings have been predominantly right-handed for more than 500,000 years, according to new research findings. Yet 10 to 12 percent of people prefer using their left hand — and scientists continue to probe the differences between that group and the right-handed majority, often with surprising results. Here, a look at five ways lefties are different than righties:

1. They’re more affected by fear
In one recent experiment, lefties who watched an eight-minute clip from the film Silence of the Lambs exhibited more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder than did their right-handed counterparts. That may be because the right side of the brain, which is dominant in lefties, is more involved in the fear response, according to Dr. Carolyn Choudhary of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, as quoted in The Telegraph. But more research is needed, Choudhary warns.

2. They’re angrier
Left-handed and ambidextrous people are more susceptible to negative emotions, including anger. A small study published last year in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that the brains of lefties process emotions differently than those of righties, with more communication between the brain’s two halves. As a result, the areas that produce negative emotions experience greater activity, according to the Daily Mail. Then again, maybe lefties are just “more angry because the world is designed for the right-handed majority,” says John Cloud in TIME.

3. They’re more inhibited
That emotional wiring also may explain why righties tend to charge ahead, while lefties “tend to dither,” according to behavioral psychologist Lynn Wright, as quoted in NewScientist. A study performed by Wright at Abertay University in Scotland found that lefties were more restrained and more worried about making mistakes.

4. They associate “left” with good
Most people tend to have positive associations with the concept of “right” and bad associations with “left.” Lefties are the opposite. In a recent study, Stanford researcher Daniel Casasanto asked participants to draw a zebra in a box that best represented good things, while depicting a panda in a box that would befit the bad. Right-handed people tended to position the zebra on the right side of a box, while lefties put it on the left. That shows that left-handed people “implicitly” believe “good stuff is on the left and bad stuff is on the right,” Casasanto says, as quoted by the Stanford Report, despite so many signals from language and culture “telling them the exact opposite.”

5. They may have an advantage in politics
Casasanto’s conclusions could actually favor left-handed politicians, at least in televised events like debates, says Jocelyn Rousey in Mediaite. Casasanto found that politicians tend to accompany statements they see as positive by gesturing with their dominant hands. When a rightie uses his dominant hand to give a thumbs-up, television viewers — who see the image flipped — see him gesture on the left side of their screen. The left-handed, meanwhile, “appear to be putting things in a much more positive light for the 90 percent of viewers who are right-handed.”

51 Interesting Facts About Left-Handedness & Left-Handed People

  1. Many sources claim that left-handers may die as many as nine years earlier than right-handers.
  2. The word left in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, which means weak or broken. The Oxford English Dictionary defines left-handed as meaning crippled, defective, awkward, clumsy, inapt, characterized by underhanded dealings, ambiguous, doubtful, questionable, ill-omened, inauspicious, and illegitimate.
  3. Phrases in English suggest a negative view of left-handedness. For example, a “left-handed complement” is actually an insult. A “left-handed marriage” is not a marriage but an adulterous sexual liaison, as in a “left-handed honeymoon with someone else’s husband.” A “left-handed wife” is actually a mistress.b
  4. Research has shown a link between trauma during gestation or during birth with an increased chance of being left-handed.
  5. Tests conducted by St. Lawrence University in New York found that there were more left-handed people with IQs over 140 than right-handed people. Famous left-handed intellectuals include Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin.
  6. Mothers who are over 40 at the time of a child’s birth are 128% more likely to have a left-handed baby than a woman in her 20s.
  7. The German for “left-handed’ is linkisch, which means awkward, clumsy, and maladroit. In Italian, the word is mancino, which is derived from “crooked” or “maimed” (mancus) and is also used to mean deceitful or dishonest. In Russian, to be called a left-hander (levja) is a term of insult.
  8. In Latin, the word for left is sinister, related to the noun sinistrum. Ambisinister means “clumsy on both sides.”
  9. In the Talmud, the Chief of Satans or Prince of Demons is named Samael, which is associated with the Hebrew word for left side, se’mol. The angel Michael sits on God’s right-hand side, while Samael is on his left-hand side. This attribution of evil to the left and good to the right appears in various forms throughout the world.
  10. Among the Eskimos, every left-handed person is viewed as a potential sorcerer. In Morocco, left-handers are considered to be a s’ga, a word that means either a devil or a cursed person.
  11. Even the word “dexterity” shows a right-handed bias. The term dexter means “right” and refers to being “right-handed” on both sides.c
  12. The Incas thought left-handers were capable of healing and that they possessed magical abilities. The North American Zuni tribe believed left-handedness signified good luck.
  13. Herbert Hoover is believed to be the first left-handed president, though James Garfield could write Greek with the left hand and Latin with the right.
  14. Research indicates that left-handers are more likely to become alcoholics, schizophrenic, delinquent, and dyslexic. They are also more likely to have Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or mental disabilities. Scholars note that despite these maladies, left-handers have survived because they are traditionally successful in combat.
  15. Many artistic representations of the devil show him to be left-handed.
  16. The Boston Strangler, Jack the Ripper, and Osama Bin Laden were lefties.
  17. In witchcraft texts in medieval Europe, it was the left hand that was used to harm or curse another person. To affect a curse, witches were instructed to silently touch the recipient with the left hand, which would convey the curse. Additionally, the devil supposedly gives the gathering a benediction with the left hand, as opposed to the right-handed blessing of the Christian church. He would also baptize or anoint with his left hand.
  18. Both the Jewish and Christian traditions are strongly right-handed in their nature and practices. For Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and other denominations, the priest must present the communion wafer with the right hand, and the communicant accepts it with the right hand. All benedictions must be made with the right hand, and a priest symbolizes the “strong right hand of God.” 
  19. Medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides (A.D. 1135-1204) listed 100 blemishes a Jewish priest could not have, and being left-handed was one of them.
  20. In Scotland there is a saying that describes an unlucky person: “He must have been baptized by a left-handed priest.”
  21. The right hand is mentioned positively 100 times in the Bible, while the left hand is mentioned only 25 times, all negatively.
  22. In many Islamic countries, people are forbidden to eat with their left hand, which is considered “unclean” because it is used for cleaning the body after defecation. Additionally, “public display” or use of the left hand is against the law in some Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia.
  23. Although approximately 90% of all humans are right-handed, cats, rats, and mice that show handedness seem to be equally split between right- and left-pawedness.
  24. Human asymmetrical behavior patterns involve the foot, eye, and ear as well as the hand. In each case, humans show the same rightward bias they show toward handedness.
  25. Left-handedness has also been called mancinism, sinistromanuality, and cackhandedness. Other colloquialisms for left-handedness include skivvy-handed, scrummy-handed, kaggy-fisted, cawk-fisted, gibble-fisted, southpaw, cunny-and ballock-handed.
  26. According to tradition, an itchy left hand indicates you will lose money. An itchy right hand indicates you will receive money.
  27. Some scholars postulate that increased levels of testosterone in the womb increase the chances of becoming left-handed. This may explain the correlation that seems to exist between left-handedness and some immune disorders, as testosterone has been linked to immune disorders.
  28. Studies have suggested that left-handers are more talented in spatial awareness, math, and architecture. Right-handers tend to be more talented verbally.
  29. The gene LRRTM1 is a strong contributing factor for left-handedness. Scientists discovered the gene during a study of dyslexic children and believe it is inherited from the father.
  30. Left-handedness runs in families. Lefties in the British royal family include the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William.
  31. Studies show that those who have autism are more likely to be left-handed.a
  32. Many people who are left-handed draw figures that face to the right.
  33. Left-handers are more likely to be dyslexic and to stutter.
  34. One in four Apollo astronauts were left-handers.
  35. Connections between the right and left sides of the brain are faster in left-handed people. This means information is transferred faster, making left-handers more efficient in dealing with multiple stimuli and using both sides of the brain more easily.
  36. The left side, which is historically seen as weaker and “bad,” is also traditionally considered to be the female side. However, current scientific data suggests that men are more likely to be left-handed than women.b
  37. Ultrasounds show that in the womb, 90% of babies appear to favor the right thumb, which corresponds to population breakdowns of right-handers and left-handers.
  38. Researchers postulate that the proportion of left-handers has remained constant for over 30,000 years.
  39. Studies suggest premature babies are more likely to be left-handed. Additionally, infants with low Apgar scores at birth are more likely to be left-handed than children who have higher Apgar scores.
  40. Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania awards up to $1,500 in academic scholarships to students who have top academic records and who are left-handed.
  41. Researchers note that on average, left-handers reach sexual maturity later than right-handers.
  42. There are two divergent theories regarding wearing the wedding ring on the left hand. One theory is that it started with the ancient Egyptians, who believed that despite the left hand’s supposed flaws, placing the ring on this hand brought it nearer to the heart. Another theory attributes the origin to the Greeks and Romans, who wore the rings to ward off evil associated with the left hand.
  43. About 30 million people in the United States are left-handed.
  44. When placed on their tummies, right-handed babies tend to turn their heads to the right. Left-handed babies usually turn their heads to the left or they don’t show any preference.
  45. Less than 1% of the world’s population can be considered truly ambidextrous.
  46. Research suggests that left-handers are slightly more prone to allergies and asthma than right-handers are.
  47. Studies have shown that if a left-hander injures his dominant hand, he has an easier time learning to use the other hand than his right-handed counterparts.
  48. In a recent experiment, left-handers who watched an eight-minute clip from the film Silence of the Lambs showed more fear than right-handers. Scientists believe that this may be because the right side of the brain is dominant in lefties and is more involved in fear responses.
  49. According to the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, the brains of left-handers process emotions differently than those of right-handers and are more susceptible to negative emotions, such as anger.
  50. Some scientists have suggested that left-handers were originally in the womb with a twin that did not survive, or a “Vanishing Twin.”
  51. The longest words that can be typed using only the left hand with conventional hand placement are sweaterdresses and tesseradecades.
Famous Left-Handers 
Tom Cruise Leonardo da Vinci Albert Einstein
Benjamin Franklin Whoopi Goldberg Cary Grant
Paul McCartney Michelangelo Martina Navratilova
Julia Roberts Oprah Winfrey Babe Ruth
Fidel Castro Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Lord Baden-Powell
Henry Ford Helen Keller Jay Leno
Bart Simpson Dan Ackroyd Tim Allen
Charlie Chaplin Robert DeNiro Marilyn Monroe
Jerry Seinfeld Lewis Carroll Mark Twain
H.G. Wells Celine Dion Jimi Hendrix
Paul Simon Oliver North Yogi Berra
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson Steve Young Larry Bird
Alexander the Great Julius Caesar Marie Curie
Thomas Jefferson Colin Powell Gandhi
Charlemagne Horatio Nelson Ramses II
Billy the Kid (debated) John Dillinger Bob Dylan
David Letterman Mozart Prokofiev
Rachmaninoff Beethoven Ravel
Schumann Paganini Goethe
Aristotle Nietzsche Kafka
Hans Christian Anderson Fred Astaire Richard Simmons
Greta Garbo Judy Garland Drew Barrymore
Sylvester Stallone Dick Van Dyke Robert Redford
Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie John McEnroe
O.J. Simpson Dorothy Hamill Henry Ford
Bill Gates John D Rockefeller Albert Schweitzer


Studies suggest that lefties are more restrained decision makers than their right-handed counterparts.

Information sourced from:,


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