7 Ways a Left-Hander Has Advantages Over a Right-Hander
Scissors and computer mouses might not be built with them in mind, but lefties still get the last laugh sometimes.
They could be better drivers
A study of 1,500 drivers funded by car insurance company The Zebra found that over ten years, lefties were less likely to cause accidents than right-handed drivers. The researchers say that because cars are designed with right-hand drivers in mind, southpaws might need to pay closer attention in general, which would translate to being a better driver. The study wasn’t peer-reviewed, but the theory does hold up—a separate insurance company’s study found that in the United Kingdom (where cars drive on the opposite side), lefties got into more accidents. Learn the real reason why some people are left-handed.
They have better handwriting in their non-dominant hand
In a very small Australian study, lefties could write more legibly with their non-dominant hands than righties could. After ten days straight of training themselves to switch hands, though, the right-handed participants improved their handwriting more.
They are more likely to become president
OK, so this is correlation not causation, but lefties can join hands with the nation’s top leaders. Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barrack Obama were left-handed, and Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan were ambidextrous (though likely lefties who’d been forced to write with their right hand in childhood), meaning seven of the past 15 presidents have been non-righties. There’s no evidence explaining why so many leaders are lefties, but it does qualify for bragging rights. Here are 10 more fascinating facts about ambidextrous people.
They are better at certain sports
Southpaws might be fiercer competition in certain sports, according to a study in Biology Letters. Even though only about 10 percent of the general population is left-handed, 30 percent of the top pitchers are lefties, according to the study. Left-handedness seems to be an advantage when players have bigger time pressures, which is why lefties seem to have a bigger advantage in Ping-Pong than in tennis. (Lefties used to have a leg up in professional tennis, but they’ve lost their edge since the 1970s and ’80s, likely because players have mastered their backhands better.) The researchers think that during a time crunch, it’s harder for righties to adjust to opponents’ unexpected traits—in this case, being left-handed. Make sure you know the truth behind myths about left-handedness.
They might be wired to recover better from strokes
Sleepy study participants tried to identify whether sounds were coming from the left or the right while they drifted off for a study in Scientific Reports. Righties tended to mess up with sounds on their left sides, but lefties didn’t show any similar handicaps. The difference could have to do with the way their brains are wired. In righties, the part of the brain in charge of staying alert to the outside world is on the right side, but in lefties, it’s either on the left or spread on both sides. At face value, that might not sound exciting, but the researchers say the results suggest that southpaws could recover from strokes. Some stroke victims can’t perceive objects on one side, but lefties’ brains could be better protected.
They’re better at math
Though studies haven’t been consistent, some of the most recent research suggests lefties are better at solving certain types of math problems. When more than 2,300 Italian kids between six and 17 took math tests, left-handed students did the best on complex problems, though they didn’t have any advantage in simple arithmetic. Meanwhile, extreme righties (who reported they always prefer their right hand, as opposed to using their left hand for certain tasks) did worse on average no matter what type of problem they were solving. Find out what the longest word you can type with only your left hand is.
They’re better at reacting to a hand switch
In a University of Aberdeen study, participants reached toward two targets with both hands, then immediately reached toward a new target with the hand closest to it. One hand vibrated to clue them into which hand would need to reach next, but sometimes the pulses tricked the volunteers, and the target would show up by the opposite hand. In those instances, lefties were better at reacting to miscommunication and using the correct hand. The researchers think some left-handed people’s brains are more similar to a right-handed mind, which makes them less biased toward their dominant hand. Check out these other 16 things you never knew about being left-handed.