Being a “Lefty” May Have Its Advantages

lefty3The fact that left-handed humans have comprised roughly 10 percent to 15 percent of the general population for many thousands of years suggests that the trait is not an evolutionary weakness as many psychologists of the past believed.

There is almost no evidence to suggest that lefties are at any sort of physical or psychological disadvantage. In fact, some research shows that being a “lefty” may have its advantages.

According to an Australian study published in 2006 in the journal Neuropsychology, left-handed people tend to have faster connections between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which leads to quicker, more efficient information processing―a cognitive advantage that could benefit them in things like video games and sports. For example, while less than 15 percent of the general population is left-handed, 25 percent of Major League baseball players are lefties. As the study found, it could be because left-handers tend to have faster reaction times.

Another advantage, as some studies suggest, is that left-handed people are more creative thinkers. It’s possible that lefties are better at divergent thinking (the ability to think of many solutions to a single problem), a cognitive hallmark of creativity. Another possibility is that the brains of lefties have a more highly developed right hemisphere, which has been suggested to be more involved in creative thinking.

Interestingly, some psychologists speculate that growing up in the left-handed minority causes some people to develop what is known as an “outsider’s mindset,” or a tendency to have a self-image that’s more individualized rather than group-oriented. Such a mindset can predispose a person to develop qualities like independence and non-conformity, which psychologists have linked to creative thinking and innovation.

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