“The findings are considered to support the view that greater engagement of right-hemispheric resources facilitates the performance of higher order functions that orchestrate cognition, such as mental flexibility, inhibitory control, and working memory operations.” – Beratis, et. al (2013)
Ok, so approximately 10 percent of our readership is ecstatic while 90 percent aren’t. “That’s total B.S!” may be your reaction – but wait, there’s more!
A couple of things to clear up beforehand:
(1) Research swings both ways on the lefty/righty debate.
(2) We are being as objective as possible by using peer-reviewed data.
Intelligence, smarts, whatever term you may use to describe brainpower is, in itself, a highly-debated topic!
Some people call “B.S.” on I.Q tests – and there’s plenty of good reasons. For example, did you know that most “intelligence” tests do not measure creative skills? In other words, most IQ tests taken do not take into account a crucial component of abstract thinking. (Frankly, as someone who makes their living as a writer, this is quite insulting.)
But what does science say? We’re going to narrow down the thousands of studies that have “solved” the right/left debate to just a few publications.
Anyways *puff*, onto the science!
Why Left-Handed People are the Smartest, According to Science
1. “Divergent Thinking”
Interestingly enough, one of the main advantages of being a lefty is divergent thinking – aka, creativity and abstract thought.
The majority of studies have shown that lefties possess a more developed right hemisphere of the brain, which is thought to have a greater degree of influence on abstract thinking than the left hemisphere.
Another interesting and quite plausible hypothesis is that lefties, as part of a minority group, develop a more individualistic (less group-oriented) mindset. An independent frame of mind and creative giftedness often lead lefties down the path of an artist.
2. Better, faster hand-eye coordination
An interesting observation was made by some Australian researchers: 25 percent of Major League Baseball (MLB) players are lefties – 2.5 times the rate of the general population. This number is what scientists call “statistically significant” (i.e. it’s worth a damn.)
A study published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills found “statistically significant differences in proportions of left-handed persons” who “(engaged) in “interactive sports.” What’s more interesting is what they didn’t find – an advantage in “non-interactive” sports. The difference? Interactive sports: baseball, boxing, fencing, tennis. Non-interactive: bowling, diving, gymnastics.
In short, lefties (theoretically) have better and faster hand-eye coordination.
They also have…
3. Faster reaction times
Now this “lefties are more athletic” theory is making a bit more sense. Better, quicker hand-eye coordination and faster reaction times? That’s something you’d see scribbled down in some pro scout’s notepad.
In a study published in the journal Neuropsychology, researchers discovered “a relationship (between) interhemispheric transfer time and hemispheric interaction in left-handed participants. (Results) demonstrate significant handedness effects, suggesting that left-handed individuals tend to have more hemispheric interactions.”
This scientific mumbo-jumbo can be deciphered as follows: lefties, on average, have faster left/right brain connections that righties. (Couldn’t they have just said that?)
4. Better spatial ability
John’s Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth defines spatial ability as “the capability to understand and remember the spatial relations among objects … made up of numerous subskills, which are interrelated among each other and develop through your life.”
Spatial skills are among the most “convenient” to have. For example, someone with this ability is generally excellent with directions. The skillset can also be lucrative, as many lefties are overrepresented in the fields of architecture, engineering, mathematics, and technology.
5. They’re emotionally intelligent
“For left-handed people, implicitly, they think good stuff is on the left, even though consciously, explicitly, everything in language and culture is telling them the exact opposite,” says Daniel Casasanto, psychologist and professor at Stanford University.
Dr. Casasanto makes an important point. For years, and it continues today (though to a lesser extent), left-handed people were/are discriminated against. Did you know that, simply by being born left-handed, many people assumed lefties were “crippled, defective, clumsy, inept, doubtful, questionable, ill-omened, inauspicious and illegitimate”? We’re talking less than 100 years ago.
Most of this revolting ignorance has (thankfully) gone by the wayside. Having something in common with five of the last seven presidents, four of five designers of the Mac computer (including Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – and their competitor, Bill Gates), and possibly the greatest mind in history – Albert Einstein – will quickly render critics silent.
Plus, lefties have their own day: International Lefthanders Day. Yep, pretty cool.
On August 13, be a pal (or just look smart) while offering a crisp high-five using your southpaw.
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