|There's no such thing as being
This is like living in a world in which there's no such thing as "gay,"
only "straight" or "bi-sexual." See, on a genetic/developmental
there is apparently nothing that assigns left-handedness the way there
is for righties. The majority of the world (i.e., 89% or so) uses
their right hand to the exclusion of most else. By contrast,
aren't lefties at all; they use whichever hand happens to work best.
This is not to be confused with
The word "ambidextrous" has a muddled meaning. It is usually
to mean that someone can use either hand for the same task.
However, this ability is rare since few devote the time to practicing a
given task such as, say, writing with either hand. On the other
(if you'll pardon the pun), "left-handed" individuals are a walking
of right- and left-handed tendencies, some exhibiting more of a
one way than the other. This is usually referred to as
or (less often) cross-dominance.
In my own case, I'm very much a
both handednesses. I compiled the following lists of various
activities to see how they fell out, and they were about even.
this isn't completely bias-free nor are all things equal, at least from
several other reasonable perspectives we might consider.
Time vs. task.
lists do not reflect proportions of time employing either hand in a
activity. For example, I have spent many hours of my life writing
and eating. The sum proportion of my life engaged in these
activities probably dwarfs almost every other activity on the
By this measure, I am perhaps overwhelmingly left-handed, but if you
at each item as a singular decision regarding which hand to use, you
see that preference is more evenly divided.
are inherently right-handed, as dictated by the ergonomics of the
required to perform them. For example, golf-clubs are
unless one goes out of his/her way to obtain a left-handed set.
many power tools (e.g., chainsaws, circular saws) are all but
to operate except in the invariably right-handed configuration in which
they're designed. My ever-present camera places the grip on the
side, but when I am not actively taking shots, I default to my left
and hold it by the base/lens.
For many activities
where handedness is independent of the implements involved, a lot of
time I switch as needed, for example due to fatigue or simply because
angle may be more appropriate (e.g., hammering something near an
or close to a corner). However, since it is almost impossible to
go 50/50 on any of these, I filed activities by their preferred hand,
those where I "switch" easily, I marked with an asterisk.
Okay, so the lists?
Pour a drink
Brush my teeth
Pee (right hand gets the clothes
Sign (I can finger spell and
only a little
Talk on the phone (usually)
Carry a camera (usually by the
of the body rather than by the right-handed grip)
Shoot a pistol (usually; this
quite get an asterisk)
Throw a paper airplane
Violin (tendency; I actually use
because that's the way almost all are made/strung)
Trumpet (tendency; I can't
Tennis racket (again, not that I
Throw a Frisbee*
Bowling (though I initially
Floss (both hands are required,
Taking my contacts out (but put
ambidextrously; left for left eye, etc.)
Using keys/opening doors
Hand saw/tree saw
Wearing a watch
Shoot a rifle or shotgun
Swing a bat
Throw a (foot/base)ball
Dial phone (held with left, push
Shoot a camera (note: dictated
Golf (again, not that I actually
Some items are surprising (and not
just that I included masturbation; I'm trying to be scientific), such
that I usually shoot a pistol with my left hand while using my right
long-guns, even those that do not feature preferentially-handed loading
mechanisms such as bolt-action. In effect, I am performing
the same task requiring similar components of coordination, but I
hands due to the medium employed in that activity, not the end it
Similarly, I use a joystick with my left hand and yet the mouse is
in my right (which could conceivably be incredibly advantageous if I
a gamer). Also, as mentioned above, I put in my contacts
my left hand, but take them out with either (i.e., left eye w/ left
I use a screwdriver right-handed, but tend to use a drill left-handed
I have a screwdriver bit in it. In all cases: Same end, different
I had a hard time categorizing
the more complex tasks like using my wallet. It's in my left
but I dig through it with my right hand. I'm not sure which is
preferred approach in this case. And who can tell which hand you
need to tie shoe laces? I need both, and I'm not sure either is
dominant one since it's the shoes that are getting tied up, not the
(Bondage joke; try to keep up).
See Stanley Coren's The
Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness, one of
most exhaustive (but thoroughly readable) books on the subject.