All about Being Left-Handed

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Every year 13th August is National Left-Handers Day, celebrating people around the world who are left-handed. Here are some things you may not know.

Left or right?

Almost everyone has a strong preference for the use of one hand over the other. This is known as the dominant hand. But most people are right-handed. Only about ten percent of the world’s population is left-handed. Some people are ambidexterous, meaning they use both hands equally. If both parents are left-handed then there is a strong chance their child will be left-handed. It’s about twice as common in twins.

The right to write

In the past people who were left-handed were sometimes forced to use their right-hand to write. It was believed that being left-handed was a sign of a defiant personality and even dangerous. The young Duke of York (later to be George VI) was encouraged to use his right hand, along with coaching for his stutter, which was thought to be connected. (Nowadays we know that a stutter comes from the person being put into a stressful situation.)

Myths and facts

There are many myths about left-handed people that have been in circulation over the years: that they are more likely to die young, or earn less. It is true that left-handed people usually score higher in tests of spatial skills, the ability to multi-task and adapting to new ways of thinking. This may be because the left side (hemisphere) of the brain is linked to the right side of the body, and the right side (hemisphere) of the brain to the left side of the body. The right side of the brain is mainly in charge of spatial abilities, facial recognition and processing music. It plays a role in language and helps us to understand visual imagery and make sense of what we see. Four of the five original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed. And one in four Apollo astronauts were left-handed.

It’s a right-handed world

There are many items in the world that are difficult or even dangerous for left-handed people to use. This includes school desks (where the writing area is attached and cannot be moved from side to side), kitchen implements, scissors, musical instruments and even some machinery. For example most cameras are designed for right-handed people, with the shutter release, hand grip and dials placed for use by the right hand.

Famous left-handers

Barack Obama is left-handed, along with seven other US presidents, as were Leonardo Da Vinci, Marie Curie, Billy the Kid and the Queen Mother.

What is left-handed day?

August 13th is Left-Handers Day, started in 1976 for left-handers everywhere to celebrate their left-handedness! Lots of events take place including left-handed pub games, picnics and sporting activities. It also helps to increase general awareness of the frustration many left-handed people experience in day to day life.

Find out more about Left-Handers Day and for left-handed products