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Are Lefties More Inhibited?

A new study relating to the behaviour of left-handed people has sparked a flurry of media interest in recent weeks. The research suggests that left-handed people are more likely to get anxious or feel shy or embarrassed about doing or saying what they want.

This hypothesis is based on a small study undertaken at the Abertay University, where 46 left-handers were compared with 66 right-handers. All participants were given a behavioural test that gauges personal restraint and impulsiveness.

Researchers found left-handers tended to agree more with statements such as "I worry about making mistakes." They also agreed that "criticism or scolding hurts me quite a bit."

The left-handers scored higher when it came to inhibition, especially when a situation was new or unusual. Women were also more held back than men.

All groups responded similarly to statements such as: "I often act on the spur of the moment" and "I crave excitement and new sensations."

Dr Lynn Wright, who led the study in Dundee, believes the results could be due to wiring differences in the brains of left and right-handers.

lefthanders shy?

"Left-handers are more likely to hesitate whereas right-handers tend to jump in a bit more," she said. "In left-handers the right half of the brain is dominant, and it is this side that seems to control negative aspects of emotion. In right-handers the left brain dominates."

The Left-Handers Club was asked to comment on the research when it was published, and Lauren Milsom, LHC Spokesperson, took part in a number of media interviews on the subject.

Whilst any research into left-handedness is of interest, this is an extremely small sample size from which to draw any definite conclusions, particularly if attempting to associate behavioural patterns with brain dominance, as would seem to be suggested by Dr Wright's analysis. Shyness or embarrassment have not been traits that our members have highlighted in the various studies we have undertaken at the Left-Handers Club over the past 20 years, and whilst control of emotion generally is said to be located in the right hemisphere, it is not just negative emotion as suggested in the analysis.

What is certain, however, is that many left-handers experience criticism and failure at an early age when our first attempts at using toys, tools and implements are "corrected" because we are working left-handed. Many of our members have clear memories of childhood difficulties at home or school caused by an unsympathetic teacher or misguided parent trying to enforce right-handed methods or implements that to us felt awkward or ineffectual. Whilst this may not affect their overall personality, it may well be that such experiences might lead to inhibitions when a left-hander is presented with something new to work out, especially in front of others.


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