What Makes Left-handed People Unique?

Learn some surprising history about our left-handed friends and the traits that make them special.

You probably don't think about left-handed folks until you have to sit next to a lefty at the dinner table and end up getting elbowed in the ribs. Lefties represent only 10 percent of the world's population, yet they've been such a fascination for so long that study after study has been conducted on what makes them so unique.

But while we now know that lefties are normal folks, history wasn't always so kind to our left-handed friends. In the Middle Ages, being a leftie was enough to get you accused of being a witch, and in the 18th and 19th centuries, left-handed children were forced to use their right hands in schools, (which was dreadful - have you ever tried switching hands to write? It's not easy). Those biases persisted well into the 20th century: In the 1970s, the Soviet bloc even had official policies against lefties.

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In tribute to our dear lefties and to make up for accusing them of witchcraft, here are some of their most endearing character traits.

  1. They're highly adaptable - Nearly all instruments and machines have been built by and for right-handed people. That means left-handers have had to adapt to less-than-ideal circumstances throughout their whole lives. Hats off to your flexibility, intrepid lefties!
  2. They remember events better than facts - This may have to do with the way lefties use their brains, but it definitely makes their memory special.
  3. Being left-handed is more common in twins - One study found that 21 percent of twins are left-handed.
  4. They're better at sports and fighting - Lefties can swing mean left hooks and can adapt quickly to unexpected situations in sports.
  5. They're not necessarily right-brained - It's a common myth that lefties are right-brained and more creative and artistic than righties. Most right-handed and left-handed people use the left hemisphere of the brain to process language and information.

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Lefties generally lead more stressful lives because they're existing in a world meant for right-handed people, so one way to be a better friend is to be extra accommodating. If you're a leftie, remember that the internet has tons of stores specializing in left-handed goods. And if anyone tries to make you write with your right hand, you can just remind them about your mean left hook.