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Are Left Handed People Smarter?

As a psychology major at the University of North Texas, C. E. Clark found, and continues to find psychology endlessly fascinating.

Left Handedness is Believed to Be Genetic

About 10% of the world’s population is left-handed, believed to be the result of genetics. Professor of psychology and medical education, Chris McManus at University College London, says there is only one point difference on average, between the scores of left-handers and right-handers on standard IQ tests taken in the U.S., England, or Australia.

Professor McManus goes on to say in the Scientific American that some things that are notable about left handed people is that they tend to suffer more often from severe learning disabilities, mental retardation, dyslexia, and more often have a stutter, than right-handed people. The professor believes the left-hander’s higher incidence of accidents is a result of living in a world designed primarily for right-handers, and is not related to any disability.

On the other hand (no pun intended), McManus saysleft-handers may have an advantage. Left-handers’ brains are structured differently from right-handers’ in ways that can allow them to process language, spatial relations and emotions in more diverse and potentially creative ways. Also, a slightly larger number of left-handers than right-handers are especially gifted in music and math. A study of musicians in professional orchestras found a significantly greater proportion of talented left-handers, even among those who played instruments that seem designed for right-handers, such as violins.”

McManus believes being left-handed can have an advantage in some sports, too. Wikipedia agrees with that, and states that left-handers may also have an advantage in combat. This is because most right-handers are not accustomed to opposing people who are not right handed, but left-handers have a great deal of experience opposing people who are not left handed.

Left-handed people who play sports or engage in combat usually have a different strategy or style, which can benefit them because it is rare for right-handers to come up against people who are left handed. As a result, right-handed people are often not prepared and seasoned in competing against left-handers.


A Special Day Just For Lefties

First celebrated in 1976, did you know there is an International Left Hander's Day? Yes, it is August 13th, so if you, or someone you know is a “lefty,” maybe you would like to celebrate the uniqueness of you, or them, being a left hander.

It was not very long ago that being left handed was considered a disability and elementary school teachers would do their best to force left handed students to write with their right hands. Hopefully this is no longer the case.

Just a thought, but is it not interesting how all through history there have been people who have tried to force everyone to conform to whatever was the most prevalent norm of any behavior or belief? Even today some people want to force everyone to think, behave, like themselves, and be the way they think we all should be.

More from C. E. Clark about How Physical Traits May Have a Correlation With Intelligence

Just A Partial List (100) of Famous Left Handed People

Arnold Palmer; Mark Spitz; John McEnroe; Jimmy Connors; Martina Navratilova; Judy Garland; Greta Garbo; Betty Grable; Marilyn Monroe . . .

Cary Grant; WC Fields; Steve McQueen; Peter Ustinov; Charlie Chaplin; Fred Astaire; Robert Redford; Tom Cruise; Robert De Niro; Sylvester Stalone; Bruce Willis; Jim Carrey; Julia Roberts; Angelina Jolie; Nicole Kidman; Emma Thompson; Demi Moore . . .

Bob Dylan; Jimmi Hendrix; Sir Paul McCartney; Sting; David Bowie; Phil Collins; George Michael; Marshall Mathers - Eminem; Celine Dion; Paul Simon; Ringo Starr . . .

Bill Gates; J Edgar Hoover; Mark Twain; HG Wells; Lewis Carroll; Prince Charles and Prince William of England; Neil Armstrong; Buzz Aldrin; fashion designer, Jean-Paul Gaultier; The Simpsons cartoon creator: Matt Groening; Ted Koppel . . .

JF Kennedy; Gerald Ford; Ronald Reagan; Bill Clinton; Leonardo Da Vinci; Michelangelo; Pablo Picasso; Julius Caesar; Wolfgang Amedeus Mozart; Ludwig Van Beethoven; Winston Churchill; Napoleon Bonaparte - and Josephine; Queen Victoria; Alexander the Great; Joan of Arc; Marie Curie; Albert Einstein; Benjamin Franklin . . .

Steve Forbes; Ruth Bader Ginsberg; Former Senator Daniel Inouye;
Anthony Kennedy; former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
Robert S. McNamara; former Secretary of Defense
Col. Oliver North; H. Ross Perot, Nelson Rockefeller . . .

Mahatma Gandhi; Sir Isaac Newton; Aristotle; Bobby Fischer; Babe Ruth; Yogi Berra; Nicole Kidman; Oprah Winfrey; Leo Tolstoy; Drew Barrymore; Jack the Ripper; Albert Henry DeSalvo (Boston Strangler); John Dillinger (Bank robber) . . .

Helen Keller; Henry Ford; Lady Gaga; Tina Fey; Alicia Keys; Scarlett Johansson; Goldie Hawn; Carol Burnett; Olivia de Havilland; Natale Cole; Diane Keaton; Kim Novak; Melissa Manchester; Cloris Leachman; and last, but not least, George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Hand Preference Questionaire

If you would like to take a hand preference questionnaire, click here.

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Wikipedia on left handedness/advantages/disadvantages:

McManus in the Scientific American:

Some famous Left handers:

© 2012 C E Clark


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 17, 2019:

Shreenidhi, thank you for commenting on this article. Glad you enjoyed it!

Robert Sacchi, thank you for taking time to read this article. I only just discovered you were here. So sorry it took so long, but know that I appreciate your stopping by.

SHREENIDHI from Chennai, Tamilnadu, India on September 10, 2019:

This article is a great read and am a left hander..

Robert Sacchi on January 14, 2017:

Well said.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 14, 2017:

Robert Sacchi, thank you for continuing to share your thoughts on this subject. I think more educated people have come to realize that some things don't need to be changed. If someone is born left handed, or different in some other way than most other people that we know, it isn't the end of the world. We really don't all have to be carbon copies of each other to be useful, productive, and worthwhile human beings.

There will always be a minority of people who imagine the only right way is their way, and they will never give up trying to make the rest of us over into their perfect image, but hopefully most of us have become enlightened and realize that being different isn't necessarily a bad thing. Or a good thing. It's just different. :)

Robert Sacchi on December 16, 2016:

Printing does have the advantage of being easier to read in most cases. I wonder if the "my way or the highway" mentality is a generational/cultural thing? It seemed more prevelant in the generation before mine. I've seen it in other cultures where different is almost by definition wrong.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 16, 2016:

Robert Sacchi, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. There were a couple of left handed students in my elementary classes and without exception my teachers (and theirs) tormented the poor kids trying to force them to use their right hands to write. There were different teachers over the years and all were of the same mind.

I suppose they may dislike the writing of left handers in some cases, but I think some people are just naturally rigid in their thinking. I believe that spills over into everything in their lives.

I'm sure you know people who think people who are different in some way from themselves are mistaken, misguided, or somehow flawed. Sometimes it's an issue of religion or religious practices, sometimes it's the way they discipline or rear their children, sometimes it's how they run their marriage. For some people there is one right way and all other ways are wrong. I've known a gazillion of them myself and still do.

I am not left handed nor was my late husband, yet we both tended to print letters or forms or anything other people might try to read. I don't think it's lefties only who have this habit.

Robert Sacchi on December 03, 2016:

When I write I favor printing over cursive. I know some others in the same boat. Is there any evidence lefties in general tend to migrate to printing? My grammer school teacher didn't like the backhanded style many lefties have. Could the dislike of students writing left handed in the old days be the unusual writing style?

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 06, 2015:

Michael-Milec, thank you for sharing your thoughts and the story about your mother. Also for the votes.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 05, 2015:

Word55, good to see you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience on this subject.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 04, 2015:

Kevin (The Examiner-1), thank you for reading and commenting on this article. I very much appreciate the time you took, the votes, the pin and especially the share.

I have my comments on approval and so they have to wait until I read them, etc. Most comments I receive are very nice, but every once in a while someone forgets there really isn't any such thing as anonymity online. ;)

Received your comments with no problem and appreciate them very much.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 03, 2015:

Shyron, thank you for the votes and especially the share! Hope al is well with you and that you're having a good Sunday. Blessings and hugs . . .

Michael-Milec on May 03, 2015:

Hello Au fait.

In a nutshell a scientific explanation of " above average'' left- handed. You have restore a peace of mind about one of the most intelligent left-handed person, who never had chance to go to school and was highly esteemed by everyone who knew her skillfulness by virtue of possessing special knowledge. She was our mom excellent cook,a housewife , gardener, who design and made her own clothing, brilliant in math,asking me to help her with racing when I was in forth grade.

Have to admit, it was quite a very long time ago when wasn't much observable difference between right or left handed people, rather it was distinguishable of willing to follow the instruction for life and succeed or just the opposite... ( A natural rule for every generation?)

Voting across but funny.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on May 02, 2015:

Hi Au Fait, I have a left handed older brother and a lefty daughter. They are are extremely intelligent. I've tried to knock (discredit) them for being left handed but that was not a justifiable thing to do. All I know is they measure, weigh, calculate and balance things. They see things realistically. They give excellent advice. They are usually right on the money. I can't help but to admire them for their left-handedness. I'm glad that everybody's hand use is not the same.

The Examiner-1 on May 02, 2015:

Highly interesting Hub Au fait. I must keep this in mind because it had much information. I voted it up++, shared and pinned it.


Shyron E Shenko from Texas on May 02, 2015:

I came back to visit this article again. It is so informative, I just came across some guitar lessons that I managed to print for a left handed person, that made me think of you and this article.

Voted up, UABI and shared

Blessings and hugs,

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 18, 2014:

Kristina Pitts, thanks for stopping by!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 18, 2014:

Favored, thank you for checking out this article and leaving a comment!

Fay Favored from USA on September 16, 2014:

I knew I was among great people. Just a few moments before I saw this article I was sharing some similar info to my hubby about lefties.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 19, 2014:

Thank you Indian Chef for stopping by and for voting on and sharing this article!

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on February 16, 2014:

Au fait.. nice hub and I did not know there is an international left hander's day. I do not know if they are smart because all the time in school and college we had left handers and yet no one topped any class of mine or was best in sports. but then I am talking about the guys who were in my class and not all the lefties. And as you wrote the lefties have more problems than righties. I did not knew about it either. voting up, sharing, awesome and interesting.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 07, 2013:

Thank you for stopping by Shyron. As I pointed out previously and start this article out by saying, lefties generally have only a 1 point advantage on average, on IQ scores over righties. That isn't much. There isn't a lot of difference between 90 and 91. The average IQ is between 90 and 110. Lefties also suffer more often from learning disabilities than righties do. So it would seem that there really isn't that much difference between left and right handed people regarding intelligence. Lefties have advantages and disadvantages in some areas, righties have them in others. It all balances out.

Thank you for the votes, pin, and share too!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 01, 2013:

River and mountain, thank you for stopping by. As I stated at the very beginning of this article, Lefties scored on average only 1 point higher than righties on standard IQ tests. There is no appreciable difference between lefties and righties regarding intelligence that can be measured on standard IQ tests.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 29, 2013:

Au fait, I love this hub and understand it. The Left side of the brain controls the right hand and visa-versa. So my own belief is that the right side of the brain is smarter.

It is like 10 people who are right handed and 5 have a higher IQ and there are 6 left handed people and 3 have a higher IQ.

That would mean to me that because there are less Lefties than Right handed. So..the percentage of people with a higher IQ would be Lefties.

Voted up U/A/I, shared and pinned.

river and mountain on November 29, 2013:

Au fait, is not the issue a much greater variance in intelligence with lefties vs. righthanders? My late father-in-law (a child psychologist), pointed that out decades ago. He said that he saw lefthanders in much higher percentages in both gifted classes and with guys pumping gas. So the average may be the same for both groups, but lefties better represented on both extremes of the bell curve.

P.S. You may have made that point, and if you did, then I may have missed it.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 09, 2013:

Bobby, I've heard that rumble radios, some stereos and even washing machines can be sexually stimulating, but I've never tried them out. Surly there's an easier less expensive way? ;)

diogenes from UK and Mexico on November 08, 2013:

Perhaps not well mentally. I just let retail therapy (there's a hub) cajole me into buying a 200 watt stereo on ebay! You can reach orgasm with the X-Bass! Should thrill a few of the ancients around here.


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 08, 2013:

Glad you could come by Bobby (Diogenes). Interesting bit of trivia about Rafa Nadal. Hope you are well . . . xox

diogenes from UK and Mexico on November 07, 2013:

Interesting to see Rafa Nadal, the great tennis player, is right-handed, but hold his racquet in the left hand. His coach, uncle Tony, brought him up playing as a lefty because he thought he would give normal right handers more problems with his serves and forehands into their backhands on the court? And so they do... Talk about looking ahead!


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 07, 2013:

iguidenetwork, thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience and thoughts on this subject.

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on November 05, 2013:

My high school classmate was such a rare example of an ambidextrous individual. She could write with her left and right hand with equal ease, but she said that she wrote better with her left hand. She could even write with both hands simultaneously!

She was musically gifted too, being a flute player in our class, and in terms of academic achievements she also did very well. She was really something, you know. I wish I could have that ability.

I watched a movie "The King's Speech" where naturally left-handed King George VI was forced to write with his right hand. Not to mention that he stuttered a lot. Seeing your statement about the link to being left handed and stuttering reminded me of the king.

Very informative article, thanks for sharing. :)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 27, 2013:

Thank you rajan jolly for sharing your personal experience as an ambidextrous person, and for reading, commenting, voting on, and for sharing this hub.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 25, 2013:

Thank you for reading and commenting on this hub, Shyron. I agree that people should not be forced to be someone they aren't. I never understood when I was in elementary school, why teachers kept insisting my classmates write with their right hands when for a couple of them writing with their left hands worked better and easier. It seemed like persecution to me.

Odd how some people think everyone has to do things a certain way (usually their way) or it's wrong, indecent, unacceptable, unAmerican, etc., etc. Where's the harm in writing with one's left hand? Or with one's toes, if it comes down to it? Believe it or not, some people can write with their toes (they have no arms or hands) and it works fine. If it isn't harming anyone, why torture children to conform?

Thank you for sharing your son's story. :)

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 21, 2013:

Au fait, this is one of my favorite hubs. because my son is like rajan jolly. But I never tried to change the way my son would use his, I think which ever hand he uses is natural for him, and no one should have someone do anything that is not natural. Love you hub.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 21, 2013:

Au fait, I'm left handed and as a child I started writing left handed though I now write with my right hand. Though ambidextrous for the most part, I still use my left hand for heavy work.

This is a most interesting read and I agree a left hander is always told to use his right hand.

Voted up, interesting and sharing.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 17, 2013:

Thank you Dream On for reading and commenting on this hub. Glad you enoyed it and that you never forced yourself to use your right hand! :)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 14, 2013:

Thank you for reading and commenting LaThing, and for sharing your experience.

I remember my teachers in elementary school trying to force a left handed classmate to use his right hand. I didn't know what to think at first, but when I got a little older and understood what was happening (maybe the 3rd grade is all) I couldn't help but wonder why he couldn't just write with his left hand? Why is that a such a big deal? Let him do what works.

I can write with both hands and instead of my left hand getting better, my right is getting worse (from so much keyboard instead of pen) so I write pretty much equally well with both hands. ;)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 13, 2013:

Thank you Paul Kuehn for reading, commenting, voting on and sharing/ tweeting/pinning this hub! Appreciate also, your adding your interesting experiences regarding lefties and your own experience on this subject. Given that you are yourself such an excellent writer, your compliments are indeed an honor.

I would not say you are left handed, but rather ambidextrous. There aren't many people who are truly ambidextrous -- can do everything equally well with both hands, but there are a few of us who favor a particular hand for doing different things other than writing.

My left hand is stronger in some areas than my right. For some reason the only thing I can think of at the moment is picking strawberries. I pick strawberries left handed, but I know there are other things I do best left handed also. In some cases my left hand is stronger, like turning on difficult faucets or opening temperamental jars. :)

DREAM ON on April 08, 2013:

I enjoyed your hub so much.Both my wife and I are lefties.We remember when our teachers tried to make us to be righties.We didn't change.I love to see all the other lefties thank you.

LaThing from From a World Within, USA on April 08, 2013:

I am left handed, and so is one of my son; and we (not barging! LOL) are both pretty smart! And I know quite a few lefthanded smart people...... I have still to come across a lefty with a learning disability! I never felt I was the odd one in a world full of right handed people. And I think that is because my parents and others never thought it was wrong. We adapt to our surroundings very well and we learn fast :)

Thanks for sharing this..... Wonderful hub!

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 08, 2013:

Au Fait,

This is a very interesting hub and once again you have done a great job with your research and presentation. I have known quite a few "lefties" in my lifetime, and most of them have been very successful. I use my right hand for writing, but I hit a baseball and golf ball with my left hand. Does that make me somewhat of a left-handed person? Also, if a person threw with his left hand, but wrote with the right hand, would he be considered a left-handed person? Voted up and sharing. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 15, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for reading, commenting, voting on, and especially for sharing this hub! I know it's controversial, but genetics really does determine pretty much everything about a person.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 13, 2013:

Thank you for stopping by and commenting on this hub, Kathryn Stratford! It can be interesting to learn what the results of various studies are on a variety of things.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on March 12, 2013:

That is very interesting! I remember working with one of my friends in middle school on a study about left handers verus right handers, but I don't remember what our conclusion was. It was a fun project, though.

Thanks for sharing your information on lefties.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 12, 2013:

I had no idea that there was a special day devoted to honoring left handed people. Interesting topic. As you said, genetics plays a key role in determining things like hand preference. UUI votes and will share.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 26, 2013:

Thank you for stopping by. If you read carefully, I answered your question. ;)

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on January 15, 2013:

This is very interesting information. I would really like to know if left handed people have a mental advantage.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 15, 2013:

Thank you for reading, commenting, and voting on this hub moonlake! Glad you enjoyed.

moonlake from America on January 13, 2013:

My kids are all right handed but I have a brother and sister that are left handed they are both very smart. My sister had no problems at all in school. She could sing and draw. Things I could never do. Enjoyed your hub voted up.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 29, 2012:

Ardie, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub, and for the follow! When the results from the studies currently underway come out, I plan to add them to this hub. Glad to hear that you have a daughter who is curious and interested in new things along with seeking excellence. I have one of those daughters too. :)

Sondra from Neverland on November 28, 2012:

Interesting - my daughter (the one who is interested in the eye color and personality) is a lefty and she is very smart - she gets excellent grades even in the gifted program. I think it could come down to living in a right-handed world and having to learn how to function in it as a lefty =) Just my two cents. Im off to follow you now - I love your Hubs!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 30, 2012:

Lots of people in the past believed being left-handed was a choice and made the lives of left handed children miserable by trying to force them to favor their right hands and conform. Some people still haven't been enlightened on this issue.

Very few if any medical doctors have studied genetics. It is a very complicated field all it's own and would add many years to obtaining a medical degree. As more is learned about genetics it becomes more and more clear that everything in living things (plants and animals) that isn't caused by disease or injury is genetic.

Thank you again My Minds Eye53 for adding to the information here.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 29, 2012:

WorkATHomeMums: Thank you for your comments. Yes, there are lots of cool things out their for lefties. My list of successful people who are left handed was pretty extensive, but by no means comprehensive.

IQ Tests may show that lefties aren't necessarily smarter on average, but they do hold their own. Personally, I do not see why it should matter if someone is right or left handed, but I do admire people who can use both hands as necessary to accomplish a task.

I'll have to read your hub on left handers, and I hope my readers will do that too!

Maude Keating from Tennessee on April 29, 2012:

The doctor that tested us (my daughter and I) said it was a monkey see monkey do type of thing since my mom was right handed and she was the one who taught me.

You are welcome!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 29, 2012:

Yes, I know that in ignorance people have persecuted lots of other people because they believed them to be evil. Left handers, redheads, people with different skin color, and basically anyone who was different -- the list goes on. But who was doing the persecuting? Who was acting the evil?

Unless something is caused by an accident or disease, it is genetic. Very probably the gene for left handedness was passed on by your father. Even if it isn't obvious in a child or grandchild, it may still be a recessive gene that can be passed on to the next generation.

Science already knows that some people who are right brained are often still right handed also. Usually a person who is left brained will be right handed, but that does not always follow through when a person is left handed. Scientists are still mulling that one.

Thank you so much My Minds Eye53 for commenting. I appreciate your additions very much!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 29, 2012:

Brett: Thank you for your comments and for sharing. Everything is genetic.

WorkAtHomeMums from Australia on April 27, 2012:

I'm a lefty. I published a hub the other day on left handed people featuring all the products that have been invented for us. Even links to a left handed club on Facebook. We are smarter. But I'm biased :)

Maude Keating from Tennessee on April 26, 2012:

Part of the stigma associated with left handers has to do with religion. Since Jesus and the "good" sits at the right hand of God, then surely the evil is to the left. Many believed that left handed people were possessed with evil. My dad was left handed and forced to use his right. As a result he was truly ambidextrous. I was supposed to be left handed as well as my daughter since we are both extreme right brained. But we are both right handed. Though I do many many things with my left as well as I can with my right. When I had a cast on my right hand I had no trouble switching to my left. I don't know if I can do everything with the left because I haven't tried. We seem to have a lot of lefties in our family, do you know if it runs in families?

Voted up

Brett C from Asia on April 26, 2012:

Interesting hub. I can believe many of the points you raise here, as the brain is said to have two sides for different functions, it would make sense that this could affect the hand you use and your talents in life.

SHARED, up and interesting.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 26, 2012:

Being truly ambidextrous is very unusual. Most people are able to use either hand for only some things but not all, so your son is the real McCoy. Thank you Shyron, for commenting.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 25, 2012:

tillsontitan: Thank you for your comments! Very much appreciated. I think there can be no doubt that lefties are just as smart and just as talented as righties.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 23, 2012:

Diogenes: Thank you for your comment! ;)

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 22, 2012:

I know two people who are left handed, maybe I can count my son as a right/lefty or a left/righty. He can write with either hand. When he was a baby he would use the fork/spoon with one hand, then the second bite would be using the other hand.

Mary Craig from New York on April 22, 2012:

Oh Bob...leaving Bob's comment ;) I have to say I know some of the smartest left handed people in the world, including my husband. No, he has no college degrees but his common sense, ability to remember directions and so many, many more traits put him far above his right-handed counterparts! One of my granddaughters is left-handed and she plays the violin, is an honor student taking advanced placement courses, can sing, skii, is on a rowing team and more. Another way above average left-handed person. There are more left-handed people in my family and they all show a super ability.

I enjoyed your hub and say up for your hub and lefties!

diogenes from UK and Mexico on April 22, 2012:

I had such a naughty suggestion, I am going to leave and just thank you for the hub


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