Perfectly Southpaw: 20 Facts About Being Left-Handed

Left right brain function creative concept illustrationAugust is International “Left-Handers Month. It was first launched in 1996 to raise awareness for the special circumstances, challenges, and accomplishments of left-handed people around the world. Here are 20 fun facts about left-landers to help examine their plight.

  1. It’s estimated that 10-12% of the total world population are left handers, including about 30 million people in the United States.
  1. A study at St. Lawrence University in New York concluded that there are more left-handed geniuses, or people with IQs over 140, than right-handers. In fact, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin were all lefty, among others.
  1. Do animals favor one side over another? In fact, dogs, cats, rats, and mice do favor one paw or leg over another, though the proportion of right versus left-dominant animals is equal (unlike humans that are 90% right-handed).
  1. There are various theories on why people end up left-handed or right-handed, but some studies point to evidence that left-handedness is hereditary, thanks to the gene LRRTM1 that is passed down from the father.
  1. For instance, in the British royal family, left-handers include the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William, which would be statistically near impossible if left-handedness wasn’t hereditary.
  1. Herbert Hoover was the first left-handed U.S. President, although President James Garfield wrote Greek with his left hand, but Latin and English with his right. Nowadays, four of the last seven U.S. Presidents have been left-handers!
  1. Researchers believe that the proportion of left to right-handers in society has remained constant for the past 30,000 years – or as far back as they can track.
  1. Ambidextrous people can naturally use both their left and right hands equally, yet less than 1% of the world’s population are truly ambidextrous.
  1. Are left or right-handed people more successful? In fact, college graduates that are left-handed go on to become 26% wealthier than their righty cohorts.
  1. Left-handers also are more likely to go into creative careers. That could be because lefties score higher in spatial awareness, math, and architecture, where as right-handers are more adept at verbal skills.
  1. 25% of the astronauts on the Apollo mission were lefties.
  1. Athletes tend to do better when they are left-handed, too. For instance, baseball pitchers, batters, basketball shooters, tennis players, and boxers tend to become more successful (called ‘Southpaws’), though this may be because they have an advantage since right-handers spend a lifetime training and preparing to play a right-handed game.
  1. Women are left-handed at a rate about 4% higher than men.
  1. To help counter this right-handed bias in our society and education systems, Juniata College in Pennsylvania awards academic scholarships up to $1,500 to left-handed students who have deserving credentials.
  1. There are some inherent negatives to being left-handed, like the fact that they are more likely to have allergies, get migraines, dyslexia, be autistic, and suffer from insomnia and other maladies.
  1. Lefties are also three times more prone to alcoholism since the right side of the brain has a lower tolerance to alcohol. Even levels of fear and how they process emotions are different in left-handers because of the left-right brain function difference.
  1. Studies show that the life expectancy of left-handed people is as much as nine years less than the lifespan of righties.
  1. But interestingly enough, scholars point to the fact that the numbers of left-handers were consistent throughout history, thanks in part to a belief that they had higher survival rates in combat and battle for the same reason that they excel in athletics these days.
  1. But lefthanders also have better vision underwater, are considered more creative and musical, can multitask better and their brains transfer and connect information more efficiently.
  1. Even though lefties are less able to roll their tongues than righties, all of our fingernails grow faster on our left hands than on our right.


Are you left-handed and have a fact, story, or even question to share? Please contact us because we’d love to hear it!