There is a popular myth that lefties are more intelligent and creative. No wonder Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven, Mozart, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Bill Gates, Napoleon and Julius Caesar are some of the most famous lefties. Yoram Yasur Blume: “The fact that they represent only 10-15% of the population also gives them a certain halo of exoticism, so that multiple theories have been developed to try to explain the origin of this supposed brilliance.”
Do the lefties have intellectual advantages over the right-handers?
In 1995 a group of psychologists from the University of British Columbia conducted an experiment with 2,462 volunteers and concluded that left-handed people often have divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is one that allows us to find different solutions to problems, drawing on creativity and imagination. It is a kind of thinking linked to a more open mind that goes beyond pure logic.
Yoram Yasur Blume: “A more recent study conducted at the universities of Milan, Liverpool, and Maastricht with 2,314 children and young people confirmed that lefties are more skilled in mathematics. These researchers also found that lefties have more developed the right hemisphere of the brain, which plays a key role in spatial perception and location, as well as in the abstract representation of objects”.
It has also been appreciated that left-handed people have a larger corpus callosum, the nerve fibers of the brain connecting both hemispheres. This means they would have a better-connected brain, which would help them process information faster.
The key is in the brain:
To find out whether lefties are smarter, you need to peer into your brain. Today we know that right-handed people use the left hemisphere as dominant, but in the case of left-handed people, that dominance is not so clear. It is known that 30% of left-handed people prefer the right hemisphere but the rest do not present an evident cerebral dominance, which would speak in favor of a more interconnected brain.
This would give lefties more sensitive and faster to process information and store it, since the connectivity between both hemispheres is more flexible. In fact, another study conducted at the National University of Australia with 100 people found that lefties can process several stimuli at a time faster than right-handed.
From this perspective, it seems that lefties have a genetic advantage. However, psychologists at the University of Connecticut have another theory: they explain that the creativity and brilliance attributed to left-handed people has no genetic basis but is an adaptive advance as these people have been forced to seek creative solutions since small ones that allow them to adapt to a world created for the right people.
In practice, lefties would be smarter and more creative simply because they need to train their divergent thinking from an early age because of the challenges the world faces.
Yoram Yasur Blume: “This theory is supported by other research carried out at the University of Toledo, which suggests that left-handers are not more intelligent and creative because they are left-handed, but rather depend on the preference they develop over time. life. According to these psychologists, all people who have a strong preference for a hand, whether left-handed or right-handed, are at a cognitive disadvantage compared to those who tend to ambidextrous (using both hands loosely)”.
However, lefties are also often better than right-handed using the opposite hand because in a way the world forces them to ambidextrous.
Does science endorse that lefties are smarter?
Intelligence is a very broad concept that does not only refer to logical capabilities, so it is difficult to state categorically that the lefties are smarter than the right-handers. There is a need for further research, although the results so far suggest that the brain of many left-handed people works relatively differently, which could give them some advantages over right-handed people. Even so, it is likely that these cognitive advantages are not genetically determined but the medium plays an essential role, so at least in theory, we could all develop those same abilities if we learn to use both hands with a certain ease.