How rare is it to be left-handed? Slightly less than 10% of the world’s population are naturally left-handed. Handedness is mostly genetically derived. For centuries, left-handed persons were discriminated against, and even today, many tools are designed for right-handed individuals.
We typically think of handedness as governing which hand we write with, eat with, and do other “handed” activities. But, the left or right bias extends beyond our hands. Although we might identify as a “lefty” or a “righty” based on our hand preference, other parts of our body are also laterally biased. Some people have strong laterality biases, performing many functions with their dominant “side,” while others may be less biased, doing some activities on the left and some favoring the right.
Here are several tests for laterality that are exhibited in our body language:
1. Clapping. Start clapping. Which hand is uppermost? Right-handed people typically have their right hand clapping onto their left. Left-handed people tend toward the opposite.
2. Right-eyed or left-eyed? Stare at a distant object with both eyes. Holding your arm out, put your finger in front of that object (by the way, handedness probably favors which arm you extended). Now, close each eye in turn. One eye will keep the finger on the object, while the other will show distance between your finger and the object. The eye that stays on the object is your dominant eye.
3. Tilt your head to your shoulder. Which shoulder is it leaning toward?
4. Fold your arms. Your dominant side is the arm which is uppermost. Similarly, interlock your fingers. Which thumb is uppermost?
5. Back scratching. Imagine that the middle of your back itches and needs scratching. Which hand do you use?
6. Counting fingers. Use one forefinger to count three fingers on your other hand. Which forefinger are you using?
7. Winking. Pretend to wink at your friend. Which eye is winking?
8. Hearing. Imagine you are trying to hear a faint noise and cup your finger to your ear. Which hand is doing the cupping?
9. Warding off a pest. Imagine a bee is flying toward your face. Which hand do you use to shoo it away?
10. Put your hands behind your back, with one holding the other. Which hand is doing the holding?
If you are naturally right or left handed the majority of these activities should favor your dominant side. If all 10 are consistent, it suggests strong left/right dominance, although many people score fewer than 10 – but there is usually a majority for one side or the other.
Read more about research on handedness here.