Friday, 10 August 2012

Why being left-handed makes a difference

What do Prince William, Barak Obama, and Jimi Hendrix all have in common? They are left-handed.

It is estimated 5-26% of the population are left-handed and to mark Left-Handers Day on the 13 August, let’s see why being left-handed is less common and what difference, if any, our handedness makes.

Left-handedness is thought to be hereditary, much like eye colour. Left-handers are likely to have left-handed parents, which is believed to result from a genetic mutation or developmental issue.  Did you know schizophrenia is more common in left-handers as is autism, dyslexia and epilepsy? More left-handers are also born in spring or early summer which may affect brain development as higher rates of viral infections occur in expectant mothers during the winter.

Left-handers however, are better at using both parts of their brain, as they tend to have a larger corpus callosum. They are more likely to be good at maths, better at creative problem solving and have an IQ higher than 131 which some attribute to the greater connectivity between brain hemispheres. Left-handers are also more proficient at using both hands at once, which might explain why some of the best musicians and athletes are left-handed.

According to research in the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, handedness can influence our decisions regarding matters of value, intelligence, and honesty. Researchers found when we encounter things on the same side as our dominant hand, we prefer them. For instance, a right-hander will favour products, job applicants etc when they are positioned on the right. Likewise, the left-hander will favour those on the left. The rationale for this is that we prefer things we can perceive, and interact with easier. 

An interesting twist to this is that when right-handers are handicapped and no longer able to use their right hand, they also started to prefer things on their left. This discovery has massive implications because it suggests by changing our bodies, we can also change our minds.

First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations:
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848,

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