If you’re left-handed (or “sinistral”), you might wonder why the world is so oriented towards being right-handed (or “dextral”). Partly it’s because of tradition and superstition, but mostly its due 87%-90% of the world being right-handed. Nevertheless, when you start trying to adjust to all of the phones, golf clubs, can openers, stringed instruments, scissors, cooking utensils, and desks designed for right-handed people, you might just go mad and start thinking you’re most forgotten minority in the world.
The good news is that left-handed people have many advantages. Here are 8 that you may not have known about.
1. They are more likely to pass a driving test
Did you know that left-handers have higher success rates on driving tests than their right-handed brothers and sisters? Statistics show that 57% of left-handers pass their driving test first time round, while the right-handers only come in at 47%! Some of the best drivers in the world are left-handed such as Ayrton Senna and Valentino Rossi. If someone ever comments on your driving, there’s no harm in pointing this out!
2. They can make more money
Statistics from the US National Bureau of Economic Research show that left-handed men with a college education earn 15% more money than their dextral colleagues. This is a significant difference, but nobody can explain why. Sadly, the opposite is true for women as left-handed females earn about 5% less than their right-handed coworkers. Depending on your sex, keep these points in mind when you are asking for your next pay raise.
3. They are faster typists
Who says left-handers are slow typists? Most of us are one-finger typists because we have never learned touch-typing. However, left-handed typists can type up to 3,400 words on the standard QWERTY keyboard, which compares very poorly with 450 words for those using only their right hand. Just remind your colleagues that your typing is probably better than theirs because of this innate gift you possess. It makes you wonder: Was Christopher Latham Sholes, the inventor of the QWERTY keyboard, also left-handed?
4. They have better problem-solving skills
It must be a coincidence (or is it?) that the last five US Presidents (except George W.Bush) have all been left-handed. From Nobel Prize winners to Mensa members, lefties certainly dominate the world much more than their 10% share of the population would suggest. Looking at Mensa stats, the figure of 20% of its members being lefties certainly suggests that they are more intelligent.
Nobody is sure why this is the case. One plausible reason is that we are challenged from the very beginning to come up with solutions to our problems in a right-handed world. The next time you are praised for your problem solving abilities, just say you were born with it.
5. They are better at some sports
Take tennis. If you are a leftie, you can gain an advantage by using the leftie serve, which will create problems for right-handed players. There are similar advantages in boxing. Boxers are not used to dealing with opponents who lead from the left. Left-handed cricket batsmen also seem to do better. Leftie swimmers such as Mark Spitz were said to have a distinct advantage in that they were more easily able to adjust to underwater vision. If you play these sports, no harm in highlighting these advantages.
6. They spend less time standing in lines
Faced with the challenge of choosing which line to follow at the supermarket? No prizes for guessing that right-handed people tend to go for the right-hand side queues, while the lefties tend to go left. Because they’re in a minority, lefties can find shorter lines and get out faster. Try going left next time at the checkout and let your partner know why!
7. They are more likely to excel in creative and visual arts
Sinistrals are more likely to be successful than the dextrals in music, architecture, and art. They have some pretty solid proof, too: Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, and Micehlangelo were all lefties. Add in Albert Einstein and Beethoven, and you have a great pedigree. Make sure your friends know this when you have your next burst of creativity.
Is there any evidence why this is the case? Daniel Geschwind is a specialist in neurobehavioral genetics at UCLA and has been investigating this. He knows that lefties are using both sides of the brain when they are dealing with language. The fact that they are also using the right side of the brain creates more opportunities for creativity. Otherwise, there is still no convincing scientific evidence as to why this is.
8. They are better at multitasking
Lefties have always had to think more quickly, as they have always faced right-handed challenges. This pays off later in life, because the communication between both of their brain hemispheres is that much faster and more efficient. This is what makes multi-tasking so much easier for lefties. They have a definite advantage in being able to process multiple streams of information coming at them. If someone frowns when you are multitasking, just smile and say it’s all under control.
The stigma and shame of being left-handed has long disappeared, but the mystery and fascination remain. Maybe we will never know what really causes left-handedness, and how it makes such a difference in people’s lives.
Featured photo credit: Left handed reggae legend Jimmy Cliff/ Michael Coghlan via flickr.com