10 perks of being left-handed

From maturing faster to having a higher earning capacity, there are plenty of things for our left-handed friends to brag about.

August 13 rings in International Lefthanded Day. So while you’re battling with the scissors and trying to write without smudging your ink (I feel you, fellow lefties), here are some facts about being left-handed that will give you something to talk about while you’re waiting for that ink to dry…

1. Even now, no one really knows why some people are left-handed

Well, that’s not strictly true. We do know that genes are responsible for about 25 per cent of the time. But while left-handedness does tend to run in families but noticeably less than other inherited traits, like height or intelligence, and researchers have found different brain wirings in righties and lefties, right now it actually seems to be a mix of genes and your environment.

2. Being left-handed is more common in twins

Left-handedness is about twice as common in twins than in the general population. While 10 per cent of the general population is lefties, a 1996 Belgian study found that about 21 per cent of twins, both fraternal and identical, are left-handed.

3. Left-handed people mature faster. Literally!

On average the normal left-handed person will reach puberty almost six months earlier than their right-handed counterparts. As yet, it's not known the reasons why.

4. Your pet could even left-pawed

Vet Janice Lloyd from James Cook University in Townsville told the ABC last year that in her research, she found nearly 50 per cent of dogs favoured their left paw. She even has a test you can do to find out – first up, you shake hands, and note which paw is offered up. Then you put a treat out of reach to see which paw is used to get it, notice which paw is used to hold a toy they’re chewing and to remove a sticky note from their nose, and finally, note which paw do they use to “knock” on the door. Ah, science!

5. Lefties feel the fear

People whose left hands are dominant tend to be more affected by fear than people who use their right hands, according to research presented at an annual conference of The British Psychological Society. How did they prove that? They had participants watch an eight-minute clip from the film Silence of the Lambs! When asked to recall events from the segment, lefties were far more likely to show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder than righties.

6. Lefties even hear differently

People who use their left hands when listening may hear slowly-changing sounds more easily than those who use their right hands, according to a study from Georgetown University Medical Centre in the US. The researchers found that the left hemisphere of the brain, which controls the right hand, likes rapidly-changing sounds like consonants, while the right hemisphere, which controls the left hand, likes slowly-changing sounds like syllables or intonation.

7. Four of the last six US presidents were left-handed

It's likely to just be a coincidence, but President Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford were all left-handed. There’s also a rumour that Ronald Reagan was born a leftie, but schoolteachers converted him to a righty when he was young.

8. If you’re trying to switch and write with your other hand, lefties are best

A study from the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide found that when a group of both right-handers and left-handers were asked to retrain to write using their non-dominant hand left-hander had a higher legibility score initially (though – bummer - it evens out over time).

9. Lefties love a drink

Once upon a time, it was reported that left-handed people were about three times as likely to end up becoming alcoholic! But fear not - a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Psychological Health examined the issue. They found that left-handers did tend to drink more often, but mainly because they were “less likely to drink rarely (less than once a month) or not at all.” In other words, lefties weren’t more likely to binge drink or become alcoholics. “There is no reason to believe that it is associated with excessive alcohol consumption or risky drinking,” the authors wrote. Cheers.

10. Left-handed people earn more

Well, some do. In a 2006 U.S. study, researchers concluded that there was no statistically significant correlation between handedness and earnings for the general population, but among university-educated people, left-handers earned 10 to 15 per cent more than their right-handed counterparts.

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