This is why most people are right-handed

Originally published at: This is why most people are right-handed | Boing Boing


what’s the tl;dr?


Lateralization and tool use.


The presenter admits that he’s right-handed, so I’m calling bias.



He mentions that it’s a spectrum- I feel seen! I write left handed, but do everything else right handed. The only time I remember pitching a serious tantrum in elementary school was when the teacher insisted that my straight upright letters needed to have the slant of a rightie, so while I was allowed to be lefty she tried to force me to do that weird uncomfortable wrist curl.


There is no gene for left handedness. If you have a handedness gene you’re right handed. If you don’t, you’re equally likely to be left or right handed. Societal pressure plays a massive role. Aside from assaulting children that don’t write with their right hand, some writing systems can’t be done with the left hand (looking at you brush calligraphy), certain tools are right handed, etc. I personally switched to left-handed after a discussion in preschool. Later when all the elementary school scissors upgraded from blunt nose to pointed, I switched back to right-handed just for scissors. Sometimes it’s easier to just copy the methods of the right-handed teacher rather than work out another way to do it. It took me the longest time to figure out why my knitting wasn’t turning out right. (Directions written from a right-handed perspective don’t turn out as intended when knitted in a left-handed way.) I’ve pretty much given up on learning to crochet. Pretty sure neanderthals felt the same way.


For me, it depends on what I’m doing. If it primarily involves wrist movement, like writing, I use my right. If it involves the fingers more, like typing, I rely much more on my left.

There’s a joke in there somewhere.


I guess I can’t blame those Nuns then for smacking my left hand with a yardstick repeatedly whenever I used it to write. It was all in the evolution thingy all a long.


Most total-righties are Neanderthals. Of course.

1 Like



I remember noticing as a kid that most Muppets are left-handed but it took me a bit longer to puzzle out the (now obvious) reason why.


I know lefties who play guitar righty. And they weren’t all forced to play righty by pushy music teachers, they chose to play that way.


Me too, but I must add that I am inept with either hand, on average.

Clarification: SOME things work just fine with whatever hand or whatever whatever. I was thinking sports mostly, where I get mixed up and fumble or tumble.


I’m right-handed but my left hand is pretty handy too. It’s not much use for writing and drawing but it can thread nuts and use tools with ease.

I always assumed everyone was like this but I discovered recently while working with an artist friend of mine that this isn’t the case. He is left handed but his right hand is all but useless.

This illustrates a problem that I’ll call self-referentialism, which as a designer has more than once bitten me in the ass…


i write with either hand, mainly depending on the convenience of the position i find myself in and the results are just as poor either way. that last point is why i describe myself as ambisinestrous.

regarding other skills:

right-handed skills include shooting a bow and a rifle. operating a screwdriver or a wrench. playing a stringed instrument. using a mouse.

left handed skills include throwing or tossing any object. operating doors and locks. firing a handgun.


when the nuns tried to make me learn to write with my right hand, my mom (a lefty) was SO angry. she marched right down to the school and told them they would do no such thing, and that if i wanted to write with my left, then i would learn to write with my left. thanks, mom! #LeftyPride

[EDIT: horrendous typos!]


Yeah, your Mom is/was nice.


They wanted to be able to borrow other players’ guitars


You can go the Hendrix route and play a right hand guitar with reversed strings upside down which has it’s downsides (no pun intended), you can buy a left hand guitar (which was a lot more complicated before big online shops) or you just learn to play what is called a right hand guitar. But it is still external circumstances that force you to choose one of those options that right handed people don’t have to think about.


I’m left-handed (writing, throwing) and left-footed (kicking balls, hackey-sack) but fairly ambidextrous/piedrous more so than the average person. hackey-sack really requires using both feet well; not only for kicks, but you need to have good balance and movement on the foot you aren’t kicking with, and be able to switch them seamlessly. for hands, scissors is the one expert righty thing I do, because you’re forced to learn. however, I can use right-hand scissors in my left hand depending on the material and the angle they’re held; doesn’t always work. for holding-object-in-one-hand-manipulating-it-other-hand, I’ll use the way I think is easier for left but can switch out seamlessly if my guess is wrong or if my balance is off that way etc.
I don’t play guitar but I tried to learn/dabbled and to me “right-handed” playing IS lefty. sure, flat-picking and advanced fingerstyle stuff may favor right hand picking, but beginner guitarists are either going to be playing one string at a time or (most likely) strumming. that’s easy to do on my right. it’s fingering the fretboard and making chords that’s difficult, that’s where I want my dominant hand.
I was bowling with friends and was having a good enough game that a guy in the next alley took notice and first pointed out to me that I was left-handed but right-eyed, which is rare, I guess. I sight the pins right-eye forward, sight a rifle and cue stick right-eyed but hold the bowling ball, trigger, and stick all lefty.
the hemispheres of my brain communicate every-which-way, it seems.
I was tested as high IQ when I was about 13, I have no doubt this is related to having these weird networking protocols in place helps with that.