Things You Never Knew About Being Left-Handed
And what it could say about your personality.
Left-handed people didn’t always have it in easy this world. In the past, they were labeled as evil, considered to be witches, and the word sinister comes from the Latin word for “left” as in left handed. As TIME magazine wrote back in 1969, even “the Devil himself was considered a southpaw, and he and other evil spirits were always conjured up by left-handed gestures.” All this despite the fact that left-handed people make up a good 10% of the population.
While left-handed people are no longer consider sinister, weak, or wrong, their lives are still more difficult thanks to can openers, computer mouse, cars, spiral-bound notebooks, and school desks all designed for the right-handed majority. As recently as 1961, the American psychiatrist Abram Blau warned parents: "Don't let your child be a leftie!" according to The Guardian.
While left-handed scissors and desks and more thoughtful psychiatrists have been making the lives of lefties a bit easier—and at least they aren’t accused of witchcraft every time they write with their left hands—myths about them persist.
Here are a few of them, and a few truths, too:
Myth: People are born left-handed when mothers are stressed during pregnancy
Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly why some people prefer one hand or the other. Studies have shown that maternal stress levels and the age of the mother may have something to do with it, it is more likely genes and the spinal cord and societal pressure to be a rightie.
Myth: Twins are more likely to be left-handed
True! While 10% of the general population is left-handed, a 1996 Belgian study found that about 21% of twins, both fraternal and identical, are left-handed.
Myth: Left-handed people are more likely to have introverted personalities.
While you may know a few left-handed introverts, you probably know a few right-handed ones, too. The science on this is split, while a recent study found that being left- or right-handed did not have any relationship to personality. While another study found that lefties tend to be shyer and more easily embarrassed.
Myth: Left-handed people are better at sports
This is true. The advantage is particularly strong in tennis and baseball, according to a study done by Penn State, but can be seen in boxing, golf, and more.
Myth: Left-handed people are more creative.
That might be true. While no one is quite sure of the exact reason, a Stanford study found that those with a dominant left hand are better at "divergent thinking." There are a large number of artists, architects, musicians, who are left-handed, a New Yorker article points out.
Myth: Left-handed people make better leaders
This might be true. While only 1 out of 10 people in the general population are left-handed, six out of the last 12 U.S. presidents have been left-handed. Other famous lefties include Apple founder Steve Jobs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire Bill Gates, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey. Exactly why is unclear, but one study found that lefties may be better at memory and controlling inhibitions, another found they were better fighters, and another noted lefties tend to be more competitive, which could all be useful traits for leaders.
Myth: Left-handed people are right-brained
It depends. A study found that while 98 percent of righties are left-brained, so are 70 percent of lefties. One of the researchers told Health, “For the most part, left-handers do not differ obviously from right-handers. They certainly don’t have reversed brains.”
Myth: Left-handed people are sickly
This one is false. Lefties may actually heal more quickly than righties and have more protection against ulcers and arthritis thanks to their DNA, at least according to one study. That said, 20% of schizophrenics are left–handed.
WATCH: 5 Weird Facts About Being Left Handed
Myth: Life is getting easier for lefties
Sadly, this is only true in part of the world. As the Smithsonian magazine reports, two thirds of the world still views being left handed as a defect. In certain parts of Africa, Europe and much of the Far East, it's actually offensive to do anything with your left hand