Left handed survey results

Our survey is about which hand left-handers use for various activities, how left-handedness runs in families and how left-handers are affected by their hand preference. Thank you very much to all of you who completed the survey and we have now analysed the results so far, which make some interesting reading.

If you have not completed the survey yet, click here to add your experiences and views
(sorry, we are not taking new submissions for this survey at the moment)

These links take you to the sections of our results analysis below or you can just scroll down the page to see it all.

Who took part in the survey?
How does left-handedness run in families?
Which hand do left-handers use for various activities?
What are the effects of being left-handed?
How does being left-handed help or hinder?
Complete the survey (not taking new submissions for now)

Who took part in the survey?

39% of our survey respondents were male and 61% female. It is generally thought that there are slightly more male left-handers than female so does this just reflect the fact that males are less likely to fill in surveys?

The ages of the survey respondents were: Under 18
60 and over


How does left-handedness
run in families?

We asked about the handedness of family members to see whether being left-handed runs in families. No-one has yet discovered a gene that causes handedness but anecdotal evidence indicates that it does run in families.

The results below show the percentage of left-handers for each family member, based only on the surveys completed by left-handers as “you” and ignoring all blank boxes. For example, 14% of left-handers had a left-handed mother but only 5% had a left-handed grandmother on their mother’s side (grandmother2).

YOU and siblings
Your children
father 1
Child 1
mother 1
Brother / sister 1
Child 2
father 2
Brother / sister 2
Child 3
mother 2
Brother / sister 3
Child 4


  • In total, 11% of all left-handers’ direct relatives were also left-handed
  • The handedness of their parents was slightly higher then the generally accepted level of 10% of population being left-handed (although this figure itself has not been established by any proper large scale survey)
  • Left-handedness seems to reduce with additional children, both with the person’s own brothers and sisters and their own children. Could it be that the more children you have, the less left-handed they become?
  • Left-handedness among grandparents is below average current levels. This may be due to the fact that at the time they were young, left-handedness was much less accepted and many people were forcibly changed to the right
  • Only 1.4% of left-handers in the survey had both parents left-handed, 24% had one left-handed parent and 75% had two right-handed parents

Which hand do left-handers
use for various activities?

We asked which hand people used for the following tasks and the results below show the percentage who used the left.

Writing and drawing
Cutting with scissors
Brushing / combing your hair
Holding a toothbrush
Using a knife to cut, without a fork
Using a knife with a fork (knife hand)
Using a spoon (on its own)
Throwing a ball
Holding a racquet (e.g. tennis, squash)
Unscrewing the lid from a jar (lid hand)
Kicking a ball (kicking foot)
Holding a golf club, cricket or baseball bat
(left hand on top, facing to left side = right-handed!)
Looking with one eye (e.g. telescope)
Listening with one ear (cupping to hear more clearly)
  • Writing is the most common indicator of handedness so we can expect a very high percentage of people who consider themselves left-handed to use that hand for writing
  • Where left-handers have a free choice, they usually use their left-hand, giving high percentages for all the tasks where the “tools” are ambidextrous, such as brushing hair
  • The low percentage for using scissors probably reflects the lack of availability of left-handed scissors causing many people to change their hand rather than struggling with backwards scissors that don’t cut properly
  • There is a very low percentage of people who eat left-handed with knife and fork (i.e. with the knife in their left hand and fork in the right). We don’t find this surprising as it is consistent to always feed yourself with your dominant hand – 95% of left-handers use a spoon on its own in their left hand and 74% also use a fork in their left hand. We think there has been some historic mistake here – using the fork in your left hand should be called “eating left-handed” and it is the right-handers who have got it all wrong and change their feeding hand depending on whether they are using a spoon or a fork.

What are the effects of
being left-handed?

We asked about what effect being left-handed had on our respondents’ lives and this is what they told us.

Do you consider yourself to be more or less intelligent than average? More
Do you consider yourself to be more or less creative than average? (art and music, generating ideas) More
Do you consider yourself to be more or less awkward or clumsy than average? More
Did you experience any difficulties at school related to being left-handed? Yes
If you had difficulties, did you receive any help from teachers or others? Yes
Have you ever been discouraged from using your left hand for anything? Yes
Have you ever used any specialist left-handed implements? Yes
  • Some research has shown that left-handers are more intelligent and we certainly seem to think so ourselves, with 58% of left-handers considering themselves more intelligent than average!
  • The same goes for creativity, with 48% considering themselves more creative than average
  • Having 85% considering themselves more awkward or clumsy than average was a surprise – we thought that it was right-handers who thought that about us. However, it does show the extent to which living in a right-handed world has a negative effect on us.
  • 71% had difficulties at school, mainly with writing, but only 24% got any help – which is a bit sad when a bit of basic help can make a great difference. Some of the comments we got were:
    “At school smudged work, but received no help to overcome problem”
    “Not much awareness or understanding in 70’s and 80’s (still!), was tested by “specialist” to determine the extent of my “disability”
    “Was given pen with left handed nib as matter of course” (hooray!)
  • We were a bit surprised that, even in these days, 39% had been discouraged in some way from using their left hand
  • We were very surprised that 39% of left-handers had never used a specialist left-handed implement! With all the great left-handed products available, we thought all left-handers had at least tried them to see if they made a difference. The most popular item was left-handed scissors
  • The most popular subjects at school were maths and art, with over 40% of all left-handers giving one of these two

How does being left-handed
help or hinder?

We asked whether there any ways in which being left-handed particularly helps or hinders you, and we got some great comments – here are some samples:

I think that I problem solve in my own kind of way – often people don’t understand my thinking as it appears non logical – but to me it seems considered.. OK its a right handed world but I LIKE BEING DIFFERENT.
Difficult at meetings and conferences – seating/table space assumes right handedness. Very few items of business equipment allow for left-handedness
Signing credit card slips in on shop machines, using cheque books, smudging writing when using anything but a biro pen
Hinders when I’m sitting next to a righty when eating.
If being left handed is what makes me so creative then that is a particular help. I think through growing up using right handed things you get used to it.
When using right handed scissors it leaves me with sore thumb and fingers sometime resulting in blisters.
All life is hard if you are left handed
I believe that all left-handers see and experience the world from a slightly altered perspective than a right-hander and this I take to be an advantage.
Believe being left-handed enables you to see the world in a different way to right handers for some reason. Seem to be less conformist and able to see things from a different perspective. Amazed growing up – things that may have seemed so obvious to me – while rest of family (with exception of other left-handed members – father & brother) – could not see them at all. Makes one feel bit of an outsider with friends (majority right-handed). Found it difficult – growing up – to find people to relate to on same level / similar wavelengths.
Dance, ice skating, tin-openers, anyone else’s computer, writing desks attached to conference chairs, table settings – I often drink someone else’s wine, many other things
It’s always a conversation piece huh guys!! They know we’re better
Helps: using a mouse and writing simultaneously (righties can’t do that!)
Helps – Playing racket sports (opponents seem to get confused)
As I am only 4 years old I am unable to answer these questions
For my work I am able to visualise pipe layouts underground which helps me solve problems.

Thank you to all the left-handers
who completed the survey

We hope you have found the results interesting and amusing – at least we all know there are millions of other left-handers out there facing the same challenges and getting the same benefits.

We will be following up the survey with a series of in-depth reports on particular aspects of being left-handed and we will publish these on the Anything Left-Handed website at as well as sending them to all registered Left-Handers Club members.

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46 comments on “Left handed survey results
  1. Donna DiPietro says:

    A surgeon who was righthanded told me, he often practices fine motor skills on his lefthand. For reasons if ever accident he would be out of work. He went on to say a surgeon who is lefthanded has a great advantage in this field.

  2. Lynn Rogers says:

    I remember being in middle school the teacher told me (as I wrote back-handed at the time) “When I read your paper, I have to turn it to the right.” I acerbically said “If I wrote like everybody else, wouldn’t you have to turn the paper to the left?” I got a lower grade, my parents had to go to the school, talk with the principal (headmaster) and get the grade upped to where it should be. By the way, my parents told me to hold my tongue in such situations.

  3. Melvin Hinton says:

    Most interesting! I think–I have no proof–my grandmother made me change hands when she taught me to read and print when I was five. I usually handle my keys with my left hand. I open jars with my left hand, and I use my hands contrary to the way other players do when playing cards. I write with my right hand. In elementary school my writing was “messy” except when I wrote on the blackboard and had plenty of space. The teachers never noticed the difference, though. And that was discouraging. The summer after my second year in college an English professor, Dr. Collins, said to me as he returned one of my essays, with an “A” at the top always, “Hinton, you know, you could develop a very beautiful handwriting”. From that very day to now, over fifty years later, people still make admiring comments about my handwriting, even though I usually pay less attention to my handwriting ever since I broke my right wrist almost forty years ago.
    A piano teacher in Madrid, Spain, did a “test” on me and repeated it when I was not aware of it, and told me that, according to that test, I was left-handed!
    My first piano teacher told me she was ambidextrous and had no idea which-hand she was before starting piano lessons at four years old!

  4. cindy says:

    I remember in 4th grade i would turn my paper almost upside down to write in cursive and my teacher would tape my paper to my desk to the way she thought it should be.my handwriting was alot better the way i put the paper.

  5. Rennae Krentz says:

    The eating question confused me. I hold the fork in my right hand and cut with the knife in my left hand, but I set them both down and pick up the fork with my left hand to eat what I cut up. I always thought it was interesting that a glass sits to the upper right of your plate. I can eat with my left hand and I hold the glass with my right. That’s a lot simpler than the righties having to lay down their utensil to pick up their glass with their right hand. I guess that goes with being able to write with your left and use the mouse for the computer with your right I developed a stronger backhand in tennis because right handlers hit to your backhand most of the time. Since we would hit to their backhand we would have the advantage since righties would it to a righties forehand

  6. AE says:

    This is enlightening information. I knew sinistrals were considered “unnatural” (I was forced to write with my right hand in school), and obviously the difference in prominent areas of the brain.

    I never saw my dominant hand being of much more relevance other than those aforementioned things. But I would definitely consider myself to be intelligent, and able to grasp a more wide range of topics (i.e. both psychology, and math). I never thought there was a correlation between how I see the world and it. Family is sparse for me however, my maternal grandmother and a cousin being the only others.

    I would actually be very interested in the findings of two aspects not covered by this survey; the commonness of having left-handed friends (many of my friends are), and religious preferences (as many I know are agnostic/atheist and more science oriented).

  7. Anne says:

    Unfortunately the survey is now closed – but for reference my father was left handed. Out of six children, three of us are left handed too.
    BTW – I recommend buying left handed scissors. No more painful thumbs and fingers and instead a joyous experience of a clean, easy cutting mechanism. I bought my first pair when 45 yrs old and will never go back to RH scissors again 🙂

    • Melissa Gacke says:

      I do a lot of sewing and got my first pair of lefty scissors in the early 80’s after getting a numb thumb and blisters. They are wonderful!!

  8. Mel says:

    Just wondering if anyone knows how unusual it is to have a family of lefties as my son has been asking me. Both my husband and myself are left handed along with all three of our children

    • Kate says:

      My entire immediate family is left-handed, except my father. (Bless his heart, the poor man couldn’t help it.) That’s still five out of six.

      • Kyle McGourty says:

        I’m a left handed male from the USA. My family and friends always laughed at me for being a goof.

        As I got older, there was a lot of pain with other males in family and friends.

        “Why don’t you see the world like us?”

        Trust me, I would if I could!

        Now that I’m an adult competing for resources and position in our society, the difference is a bit painful. I’ve been critique’d for not being a team player. For me this is not intentional…in many situations I feel I am “surviving” around righties.

        With a masters degree, I can now understand NIH literature on why our brains are different. As hard as I’ve tried to change mine…I haven’t found it possible.

        I used to be somewhat harsh regarding in-group and out-group behavior (defined over any subsets of communities). As a member of the most permanent out-group there is…it’s opening my eyes that many of us have things we wish we could dearly change but cannot.

        How do we co-exist with differences when the natural reaction of minds is to reject something it can’t understand…and never can? (I think this is largely a safety and survival mechanism) I will never have a right-handed brain like my best friends. For any of us to concede our brains into the other would somehow destroy both of us. And yet we antagonize each other by difference.

        Oof! Help us history! I think for myself…I desire to co-exist the 90% of righties. I don’t believe in the notion of a caste system, and yet I seek to exist in one. Give me a role where my strength can benefit society and our experience of living does not threaten one another.

  9. heather says:

    I remember in school maybe 2nd or 3rd grade I broke my left arm it was the worst time I had emotionally. I couldn’t write obviously but yet I still tried and the teacher got upset saying use my right hand and not make excuses to not do my work!! Well I thought maybe I could.. so I tried and it was horrible writing. Again she got upset and gave in to help me, she wrote the answers I said to her. It was a reply hard time in my life with this teacher and a cast from fingers to shoulder

  10. Craig Philip says:

    i have lived 60 years as a lefty , I must have adapted and all seems natural now . School experience was bad . It was a very good school but no consideration for left-ness .We wrote with fountain pens !!
    My granfather had his hand tied behind his back. Can’timagine how one changes over to right .
    All power tools and hand tools are right handed , but they work .

    • Michelle says:

      RE: Left Handedness and Family:
      Both my sister and i are ‘lefties’
      My Father too!
      It was interesting growing up in a house where my mum (a ”rightie’) was the minority..!!!

      • Sylvia Coombs says:

        My two children are left handed and so are my daughter’s two.I’m left handed. The only one that isn’t is my husband.

      • Tracey Hall says:

        In our family mum was LH so was my brother and me. My father was RH and so are my two sisters. So half the family on each side. Hubby is RH and so are our three sons except sometimes middle son is LH with some things.

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