Let’s take a quick break from guitars and talk about being left handed in general for a change. I’ve put together a list of 25 interesting left handed facts, from the funny to the weird and everything in between.
One really interesting factoid that I picked up was from a scientist who believed that left handed people tended to be more independent as a result of having to adapt to a world that is largely built for right handed individuals.
Here are a few more fascinating left handed people facts!
Left Handed People Facts
1. Make Up Roughly 12% of the Population
On average, 12% of the world is left handed, 87% right handed, and 1% ambidextrous. However, the percentage of lefties worldwide is slowly creeping up as being left handed becomes more socially accepted.
Believe it or not, to this day some countries still try and force children to learn to write with their right hand! For example, in 1860 when a left handed person was essentially seen as being in league with the devil, it is estimated that as little as 2% of the population was left handed.
The current 12% figure also varies by country and gender! If you’d like to find out more we have an in-depth article here.
We left handed guitarists are an even rarer breed! In a 2015 Reddit AMA Paul Reed Smith (PRS Guitars) claimed that only 0.5% of guitarists played left handed!
Ever wondered why some people are born lefty? Check out this awesome video for a quick explanation.
2. More Likely to Have Allergies
In the research book ‘Cerebral Dominance: The Biological Foundations” a study found that left handed people were 11 times more likely to suffer from allergies than right handed folk.
The research also found that left handers were two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from auto-immune disorders, for example, ulcerative colitis or rheumatoid arthritis.
3. More Prone to Migraines
In the same scientific study described above, it was also discovered that left handed people were roughly twice as likely to experience migraines when compared to right handed people.
4. More Likely to Suffer Sleep Deprivation
It turns out that being left handed may also potentially ruin the quality of slumber that you experience!
Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a condition where your limbs move involuntarily during sleep. In a 2011 study ‘Assessment of Periodic Limb Movements in Right-handed Versus Left-handed Patients‘, it was found that 69% of right handed participants had bilateral limb movements compared to a whopping 94% of left handed patients!
So if you’re kicking your partner in bed while you sleep, now you know why!
5. Left Handed People Use the Right Side of the Brain the Most
The brain is cross-wired, meaning that the right side controls the left side of the body and vice versa. Hence the well-known saying ‘only left handed people are in their right minds’. The right-hand side of the brain is thought to coordinate the left side of the body and control tasks to do with the arts and creativity.
Take a look at our diagram below and see if you can relate!
However, a recent 2018 study ‘Unilateral, 3D Arm Movement Kinematics Are Encoded in Ipsilateral Human Cortex‘ at Washington University has suggested that tasks may be shared more equally than previously thought.
It’s important to note that the researchers have stated that since this study only involved 4 patients there is a lot more research to be carried out before we can truly understand the relationship between brain and body!
6. More Likely To Be Alcoholics
A 1973 paper by psychologist Paul Bakan ‘Left-handedness and alcoholism‘ noted that a higher than expected number of patients in an alcoholism ward were left handed.
However, in 2011, a study by Dr. Kevin Denny ‘Handedness and drinking behavior‘ looking at 25,000 people from 12 different countries found that being a lefty did not result in excessive drinking later in life. What it did suggest was that left handed people are more prone to drink at moderate levels than a right handed person.
So the common idea that lefties are more likely to be alcoholics might be a bit of a stretch!
7. Are Left Handed People Smarter?
This one varies depending on how dated your source is! One 2007 study ‘Effect of Handedness on Intelligence Level of Students‘ shows that lefties are more likely to have higher IQs, however another 2010 study ‘The relationship between hand preference, hand performance, and general cognitive ability‘ suggests the exact opposite!
So which is it?
To settle the debate, two researchers from the University of Athens in Greece compiled the data from several individual studies in order to collate data from a much larger sample size. The results of this research showed that right handed people are smarter on average – but only marginally so. Assuming that the average left hander had an IQ of 100, the average right hander would be at 101.5.
So the current belief is that the difference in intelligence between lefties and righties is so small as to be negligible! You can read the 2018 study here.
An interesting left handed statistic is that Mensa claims that 20% of its members are lefties – a much higher number than you’d expect!
8. Tend to Reach Puberty 4 to 5 Months Later Than Right Handers
This is another fact about left handed people widely quoted over the internet. However I can find no information or studies to back this idea up, so take it with a pinch of salt!
If you are aware of a solid reference, send us an email and we’ll add it!
9. More Likely to Suffer Language Problems
A 2009 study from Finland ‘Mixed-Handedness Is Linked to Mental Health Problems in Children and Adolescents‘ which looked at problems with language in children, showed that mixed-handed children had a greater likelihood of experiencing language and scholastic issues which persist into adulthood.
Likewise, a 1993 study from Norway ‘Dyslexia, Handedness, and Immune Disorders‘ which looked at 734 children found a significant association between dyslexia and left-handedness.
10. More Likely to Be Male
According to the 2008 study ‘Sex differences in left-handedness: a meta-analysis of 144 studies‘, 23% more men are left handed. This study compiled the data from 144 individual studies including a sample size of almost 2 million participants, so is generally accepted to be statistically relevant.
11. Better at Multi-Tasking
Data collected in 2008 by the Illinois Research Consortium showed that left and right-handed people deal with task and memory performance in different ways.
Experiments showed that when given two tasks to complete simultaneously, southpaw participants performed best.
This is because right handed people tend to solve problems by breaking them down into parts and analyzing each piece one at a time. Whereas left handed people tend to look at the problem as a whole and use pattern-matching to try and solve it.
12. Live on Average 9 Years Less than Righties
You can breathe a sigh of relief, as this left handed statistic was later disproved – although it is still widespread on the internet!!
A flawed 1980s study that looked at 1000 deceased people from California showed that the average age that right-handed subjects died was 75, whereas for lefties it was just 66.
The problem here is that the study assumes that the number of left handed people remained static over time. Many people born in the early 1900s were forced to write right-handed, and so would not have identified as being left handed at death. As a result, the findings from this study have been largely discredited.
However, there has been some evidence to suggest that left handers are more likely to have minor accidents than their right handed counterparts, so we’re not quite out of the woods!
13. 39% More Likely to be Homosexual
The 2000 study ‘Sexual orientation and handedness in men and women: a meta-analysis‘ compared the rates of non-right-handedness in 6,987 homosexuals and 16,423 heterosexual participants.
It was found that homosexual participants had 39% greater odds of being non-right-handed.
In keeping with the sexuality theme, the 2013 study ‘Biological markers of asexuality: Handedness, birth order, and finger length ratios in self-identified asexual men and women‘ found that asexual participants were roughly 2.5 times more likely to be left-handed!
14. Recover From Strokes Faster
For the majority of the population, the left side of the brain is largely in control of language function. This is the reason why most strokes or brain injuries that occur on the left side will have an adverse effect on language.
95% of right-handed people have left-brain dominance when it comes to language control, whereas this drops to 70% for lefties.
This means that after a stroke, lefties are more likely to be faster to recover language ability. Definitely one of the facts about left handed people that is a major plus!
Left Handed Facts & Trivia
1. Left Handed Pens Are a Thing! Who Knew!?
They really do exist – click here to check them out.
Various designs are available, but the pens linked here have a special hooked tip to allow lefties to more easily see what they are writing. The design also keeps the fingers further away from the tip, which when coupled with quick-drying ink means there is less chance of smudging.
Personally I’ve never tried one, but let me know what you think if you have!
2. Have an Advantage In Certain Sports
Lefties make especially good baseball players, tennis players, swimmers, boxers, and fencers (almost 40% of the current top tennis players are lefties).
Essentially we excel at non-team-based sports where players face off one-on-one. This is because right-handed players are used to mainly playing against other right handed players and not lefties.
Did you know that tennis champion Rafael Nadal is actually right handed, but learned to play lefty to give himself an advantage? It certainly seems to have worked out nicely for the Spaniard!!
3. International Left Handed Day is August 13th
Every year on August 13th we southpaws get our very own day to celebrate our uniqueness. The day is supposed to help promote awareness of the problems that we experience living in a largely right-handed world.
Click here to find out more about this special day.
4. Draw Figures Facing to the Right
According to the 2014 study ‘What affects facing direction in human facial profile drawing? A meta-analytic inquiry‘, left handed people mainly draw characters facing to the right, and right handed people draw them facing to the left. Try it!
5. Are Left Handed People More Creative?
It’s true! The 2007 study ‘Creativity and Psychopathology: Higher Rates of Psychosis Proneness and Nonright-Handedness Among Creative Artists Compared to Same Age and Gender Peers‘ (catchy, huh?) found that creatives such as painters and musicians were more likely to be left handers.
Another study from 1977 ‘Left-handedness among architects: partial replication and some new data‘ showed that a higher than expected number of architects identified as being a lefty.
6. Of the 9 Most Recent U.S Presidents, 5 Were Left Handed
A much higher than expected number of recent U.S presidents were southpaws:
Joe Biden (R), Donald Trump (R), Barack Obama (L), George W. Bush (R), Bill Clinton (L), George H. W. Bush (L), Ronald Reagan (L), Jimmy Carter (R), Gerald Ford (L).
Ronald Reagan was left handed but was forced to write right handed. Gerald Ford was left-handed, but switched back and forth.
7. Likely to Earn More Than Right-Handed People?
Depends who you ask!
In the 2006 paper ‘Handedness and Earnings‘ it was found that left-handed college graduates went on to earn 15% more than right-handed college graduates.
However in the 2014 paper ‘The Wages of Sinistrality: Handedness, Brain Structure, and Human Capital Accumulation‘, a Harvard professor found that lefties on average earn 10% less than right-handed people.
I guess what you should take away from this is that you should definitely finish college if it’s an option!
8. Typing Advantages
On a QWERTY keyboard, there are over 3000 English words typed solely with the left hand, whilst only around 300 are typed with the right hand alone.
Bizarre Left Handed Statistics
Let’s switch things up and look at some of the more crazy facts about left handed people!
1. Some People Are Scared of Left-Handedness!
Sinistrophobia is defined as the fear of things on the left side or left-handed people. Find out more about this strange phobia here.
Reading these left handed facts must freak sufferers right out!!
2. Adjust to Seeing Underwater Quicker
Neurologists report that we do indeed seem to adjust to underwater vision more readily than our right handed friends.
3. Less Able to Roll Their Tongue
In a 1998 study ‘Left-handedness and tongue-rolling ability‘ (yes, someone actually did this!), it was found that significantly fewer lefties could roll their tongues than righties (62.8% and 74.8% respectively).
4. Nails Grow Faster on Your Dominant Hand
They also grow faster on your larger fingers! Probably not the most exciting left handed statistic…
More Left Handed People Facts!
Congratulations on making it to the end of this lengthy article. If you’re still thirsty for more left handed people facts, here are a few links that you may also like to check out.
- How Much Of A Lefty Are You? Take our 60 second test and find out!
- How Many People Are Left Handed? (More Than You Think!)
- 100+ Famous Left Handed People That Changed The World
- When Is National Left Handers Day?
- 14 Inspirational Left Handed Quotes