Being a left-handed person means having certain stereotypes associated with you from your childhood. While half of the world argues that left-handed people are creative, the other half tries to associate it with criminality. Of course, none of this is true. But many people believe that lefties make slightly different career choices than the general population. They wonder whether handedness affects their earnings, rate of success, and career paths.
While many studies have associated certain careers with left-handed people, they are not definitive. It’s true that not all lefties may fit into certain academic performance groups, IQ levels, or extracurricular activities in school. However, it also does not mean that the careers listed in these studies are not meant for left-handed people.
This article will discuss some left-handed career choices that you have and what statistics show about the abilities of most left-handers.
Table of Contents
- 1 Do Left Handers Have Higher IQ?
- 2 Are Lefties More Successful?
- 3 Do Left Handers Make More Money?
- 4 Is it Hard Being a Left Handed Surgeon?
- 5 Best Jobs for Left Handers
Do Left Handers Have Higher IQ?
You may have read those fun facts about lefties that regard them as more intelligent and creative than right-handed people. However, these “facts” are far from the truth. It may help impress a few people in your circle, but unfortunately, several studies have proven it wrong.
This also does not mean that lefties have lower IQs as compared to right-handers. You see, left-handers are often said to have low IQ levels because left-handedness is caused by brain damage, which causes learning disabilities. However, this is also an over-representation of the lefties with low IQ levels.
A study that measured the handedness distribution among gifted and non-gifted children found that there was a higher number of left-handers among gifted children. According to another study conducted in 2017 and published in the Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews journal, right-handers were found to have a slightly higher IQ than left-handers, on average. Another meta-analysis of 18 published studies conducted in 2018 concluded that right-handed people had a negligibly higher average IQ than left-handed people.
However, the effect of this was really tiny. To put this into perspective, if lefties had an average IQ of 100 and both the categories of people possessed similar variation in the data, then the average IQ that right-handed people have would be 101.05.
Are Lefties More Successful?
In some areas, left-handed people are said to be more successful than right-handers. In fact, if you look at history, there have been many key figures who are lefties, such as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush. We have also seen many left-handed artists, founders, scientists, and innovators such as Leonardo da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, David Bowie, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates.
So does that mean left-handers are really more successful than right-handers? Let’s see what the facts say.
A study was conducted in Japan to measure the mathematical performances of right-handers and left-handers in Italy. According to the results, left-handers performed significantly better on difficult math problems. That’s due to the fact that left-handers have a larger corpus callosum — which is a network of nerve fibers that connect the two hemispheres of your brain. A stronger connection between these two hemispheres means better spatial abilities, which are known to help with mathematics.
However, the outcome actually depends on how one becomes left-handed because it can make a world of difference in their life. If left-handedness is caused by brain damage, it is known as pathological left-handedness and can result in learning difficulties. So that puts left-handers on the top and bottom sides of the cognitive spectrum. But this study was not the final word.
As mentioned above, other studies between left-handers and right-handers revealed that right-handers had a slightly better average IQ than left-handers. Therefore, the common belief that lefties are more successful is only anecdotal.
Do Left Handers Make More Money?
Unfortunately, no. In fact, left-handers actually make less money than right-handers. In his paper, “the wages of sinistrality,” Joshua Goodman discovered that lefties earn 10-12% less than their right-handed counterparts because they have a different brain structure that adversely affects their behavioral and social abilities.
This difference in their brain structure inhibits their social development and results in more behavioral and social problems. Left-handers are also more prone to have learning disabilities like dyslexia. Goodman discovered that the difference between the average income for lefties and righties was $1,300 in the U.S.
However, there’s another reason why lefties earn less and that’s because they tend to gravitate towards more creative careers, like the arts or media, where salaries are inherently low for most positions.
Is it Hard Being a Left Handed Surgeon?
It actually is hard being a left-handed surgeon. That’s because left-handed instruments are not available in most surgical facilities. Most hospitals have surgical instruments for right-handers since they comprise a majority of the workforce. Since these instruments are not designed for left-handers, it hinders their abilities because the best instruments for left-handers are those that are designed for them.
Although many pragmatic left-handers learn to settle in the world of right-handers and use their equipment, they cannot always compromise, as their job requires precision, dexterity, and fine motor skills. Therefore, it is important to have the right tools for the job.
Left-handed surgical instruments do exist, but most hospitals do not stock them, as they cost extra money. It is also hard to obtain these instruments, as they are not widely available. Therefore, being a left-handed surgeon is hard.
Best Jobs for Left Handers
Left-handers are pretty easy to come by in sports, especially when you face an opponent. We have seen a lot of left-handed star players, such as Wasim Akram, Ding Ning, and Clayton Kershaw. And there is a reason why left-handers are over-represented in some sports but not others, such as:
- Table tennis
According to a study published in the Biology Letters Journal, being left-handed gives players a slight advantage in sports where they face a right-handed opponent, especially those where the speed factor is real. That’s because this gives left-handers an edge, as their right-handed opponents are not familiar with their moves and require time to process them and adjust their gameplay accordingly. That’s the reason why there is a high percentage of left-handers in interactive sports.
Writers, Artists and Musicians
Left-handed artists, writers, and musicians are said to be more creatively gifted as compared to their right-handed counterparts. According to research in the American Journal of Psychology, left-handed people have an advantage over right-handed people as they are more adept at divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of generating ideas that have multiple possible solutions.
Surveys conducted on left-handed, ambidextrous, and right-handed people found that lefties find careers like arts, music, writing, and sports easier. They are drawn toward such career paths as those that are associated with the brain’s right hemisphere, which is dominant in left-handers.
Left-handers are also said to have superior verbal skills as compared to their right-handed counterparts. According to a study conducted in 1986 on S.A.T.s high achievers, left-handers were more prevalent. In fact, 20% of the high achievers were left-handers who dominated in the verbal and math sections.
The reason why left-handers have great verbal skills is that both sides of their brains communicate more effectively. Therefore, left-handers can have a rich career in the media due to their excellent communication skills.
Left-handers also make excellent architects. In fact, the number of students who tend to complete their 6-year programs is more left-handed than right-handed. An architect class in 1976 had 21% left-handed males, and they had significantly higher scores in a number of academic areas. They had better grade point averages and design scores. Whereas right-handed students were noticed to have almost zero mean scores. This shows that left-handers are gifted in architectural abilities.
Left-handers are great mathematicians in some areas but this topic is highly controversial. Because overall cognitive ability is connected to brain lateralization, some experts believe that that is the reason handedness is correlated to cognitive abilities.
Several studies have been carried out with differing results. There does appear to be a lower representation of strong right-handedness in STEM subjects and a much lower representation of mixed-handedness.
Left-handed people are certainly more creative. The reason why left-handers make better software engineers is that they are made to live and adjust themselves to the world of right-handers. This creates unique abilities in them that can be a great advantage, especially in the field of software engineering.
They are better problem solvers and prove to be better at adjusting to the changes that come their way. They are also better at using a keyboard and multi-tasking as compared to their right-handed counterparts. Therefore, they are at more advantage when it comes to writing code and solving problems. After all, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg are all left-handed.
You will be surprised to learn that left-handers can make great astronauts too. In fact, 1 in 4 astronauts during the 1960s were lefties who were being trained to be sent to space. This was an astonishingly high number and 250% greater than the expected probability. Three of these lefty astronauts even made it to the moon as a part of the Apollo 11 crew.
Since left-handers have superior verbal abilities, they make better lawyers. Therefore, left-handers are overrepresented in this career. Research in 1996 that studied nine different professional groups, including lawyers, found that in the case of lawyers in the study, most of them were either most left-handed or least right-handed.
Leaders and Politicians
Given how left-handers have far superior skills than right-handed people, it is no surprise that left-handers make great leaders and politicians. In fact, many world leaders and U.S. presidents are left-handed, including Barack Obama, Harry S. Truman, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Herbert Hoover, and Bill Clinton. The number of US presidents who are said to be left-handed is 8, which is a huge percentage. Even though some of these lefties were forced to use their right hand, they still remained lefties or ambidextrous.
Many notable world leaders were also believed to be left-handed, including Queen Victoria, King George VI, Winston Churchill, Alexander the Great, Prince William, and more.
Today, many of the biggest names in the world of business are left-handers, including Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. They are innovators, industry leaders, software engineers, and mathematicians who made their mark in the world by stepping into entrepreneurship.
The reason why many notable entrepreneurs are left-handers is that they are great problem solvers and tend to think outside the box. They do business differently and have their own way of tackling problems. There are more successful left-handed businessmen than is expected.