5 Myths About Left-Handed People We All Need to Stop Believing (and 2 Surprising Truths)
Just 10 percent of the population is left-handed. There are many myths about the differences between righties and lefties, yet most evidence is anecdotal and more research needs to be done. Here’s the truth behind some of the most common myths about lefties.
Myth: Lefties are more creative
There are some things that all super creative people have in common; being left-handed isn’t one of them. The link between left-handers and creativity is a longstanding myth that is likely just that—a myth. A 1995 study found left-handed men tended to think more creatively when problem-solving; however, there was no difference in the thinking between female righties and lefties. “When you look at actual creative achievements in one’s lifetime, the evidence is not strong for association with left-handedness,” Ronald Yeo, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Texas-Austin told Health. Check out these facts you never knew about left-handed people.
Myth: Lefties are more likely to be leaders
Six of the last 12 U.S. presidents have been lefties, but that’s only considered presidential trivia, not a qualification for the job. There’s no hard scientific evidence that handedness had anything to do with their leadership skills. “Some of the basis for those observations between leadership and handedness comes from looking at historical figures. The extrapolation is that there must be something common between these individuals who are elected and successful, one being their handedness,” says Elizabeth Ochoa, PhD, chief psychologist at Mount Sinai-Beth Israel.
Myth: Lefties are more intelligent
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“There’s an idea that left-handed people are more intelligent, but that’s not so,” says Dr. Ochoa. A study from the 70s examined more than 7,000 grade school children and found no difference in intellectual ability between left-handers and right-handers, she said. Lefties may, however, think differently. “The world is not a left-handed-friendly place—utensils, scissors, and other items of daily use are designed for the right-handed person,” says Dr. Ochoa. “Left-handed people have to think flexibly and come up with ways to use those tools and navigate.”
Myth: Lefties are introverted
Another common lore is that left-handed people tend to be more introverted than righties. But a 2013 New Zealand study found no differences across any of the five personality measures tested between right-handers and left-handers. “The stereotype [that left-handers are mentally or morally inferior] doesn’t reflect reality,” study author Gina Grimshaw, PhD, director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Wellington in New Zealand told Health. This is the real reason people are right- or left-handed.
Myth: Lefties are “right-brained”
Since most right-handed people use the left hemisphere of the brain to process language, that must mean that left-handed people think with the right side of the brain, right? Not necessarily. Dr. Grimshaw found that while 98 percent of righties are left-brained, so are 70 percent of lefties. “For the most part, left-handers do not differ obviously from right-handers. They certainly don’t have reversed brains,” Grimshaw told Health.
Fact: Lefties may have more sleep problems
A small study in the journal Chest monitored the rhythmic limb movements of right-handers and left-handers while they slept. Researchers found that 94 percent of left-handed sleepers had limb movements (which can be an indicator of periodic limb movement disorder) compared to just 69 percent of right-handed snoozers.
Fact: Lefties may be more likely to experience serious mental health disorders
Among people suffering from mental illness, those with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia are much more likely to be left-handed than those with mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder, according to a study from Yale University. Researchers studied a small group of individuals from an outpatient psychiatric clinic and found that 40 percent of those with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were left-handed. Researchers are particularly interested in exploring the link between characteristics of psychosis (such as hallucinations or delusions) and handedness; they believe the answer may lie in what part of the brain lefties tend to use more. “Finding biomarkers such as this can hopefully enable us to identify and differentiate mental disorders earlier, and perhaps one-day tailor treatment in more effective ways,” said study author Jadon Webb in a news release. Next, check out these hilarious tweets only left-handers will understand.