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. Peter Biggs says:

    I had my 79th birthday in April and as far as I know, I have been a proud “lefty” for most of my life
    The one thing in my life which might surprise some folks is that I was a manual “hands on” draughtsman for the majority of my working life and in the early days I used a right handed drawing board which of course came with a right handed tee square, ALL of my associated equipment was also right handed, scale rules, pens and pencils, I experienced no difficulty whatsoever and as a consequence, I have problems with folks who grizzle about the lack of left handed tools.
    Since when has a pencil been “handed”, indeed, it is a totally symmetrical implement so it cannot be “handed” anyway, the same goes for a hammer and a screwdriver and lots of other everyday items.
    So, why on earth is there all this almost childish fuss about the lack of left handed implements for those who say they cannot cope with everyday items ? ? ?
    Sorry to be such a grouch but if I, as a true “lefty”, can manage perfectly well and adequately with the implements that or an the open market, then why oh why can’t everyone else ? ? ?
    I can honestly say that not once in my life have I ever said to myself “Jees, I so wish I wasn’t left handed coz life would have been so much easier for me”.
    I will now just sit back and wait for all the flack to come flying in my direction.
    Peter Biggs—left handed and very proud of it.

  2. Cynthia Greene says:

    My first-grade teacher tried to get me to write right-handed. When she figured that would not work, she said if you are going to write left-handed you need to turn your paper the right way, with the top of the page facing the left instead of the right. So, I do not write upside down and I do not smear the ink and I can see what I am writing. My father is left-handed, and one of my grandsons is left-handed. I right with my left hand, eat with my left hand and do most things left-handed. But I can write with either hand, and I can also write backwards with either hand, just something that comes naturally for some reason. I have always been creative, great problem solver and have always been good at coming up with solutions to make things work. Math was my favorite subject, but not algebra, that just does not seem logical and I look for logic in things. I have a strong since of people and their feelings, I like helping where I can. I knit right-handed, crochet left-handed, swing a bat, golf club or racket left-handed, does not feel right to try and swing them right-handed. But when I pick up a shot gun, I automatically hold it right-handed. I used my mouse left-handed, but my left-handed grandson uses his mouse right-handed. I rarely ever had left-handed tools, so I learned to use what I had and it was not a problem. I am glad I am left-handed; life is much more interesting.

  3. Gill says:

    Interesting survey. I am the only left handed member of my family, my brothers, nieces and nephews are all right handed. However I do know from both my parents that left handed children in their schools were forced to use their right hands so perhaps that could have been left handed relatives in previous generations of my family.
    Writing in school was always a problem with smudges on the paper. Also when going to conferences and having to use those chairs with the writing shelf on the wrong side.
    Since buying left handed implements, I’ve found things so much easier. I hope the new breadknife I just ordered will mean less cuts to my fingers. Also can’t wait to use the tin opener and corkscrew.
    It makes me smile when friends try to use my scissors or pencil sharpener and can’t understand why they have difficulty using it (welcome to our world).
    Looking forward to buying more stuff online.

  4. Jennifer Rhue says:

    -I am definitely left-handed. My grandmother, born in 1885 maintained her left-handedness throughout her life. She passed in the late 1950s. I inherited her left-handed scissors. Neither of my parents or my one sibling is left-handed or any of my aunts, uncles, or cousins are left-handed.
    -When I was six and had just begun 1st grade, I contracted a mild case of Polio. It affected my entire left side. After that experience, I maintained my left-handed writing but there were a few things I began using my right hand. Using scissors was one of them. Bowling was another. This was because my left side was weakened by the Polio. Then in college, I took a bowling class and a classmate who was left-handed asked me why I didn’t bowl with my left handed. I explained about the weakness and she suggested I try using the left. I tried and in time it got easier. Now, except using scissors, I am dominantly left-handed for the first time since before I contracted Polio at six.

  5. James Tallman says:

    I have read that left handers comprise approx. 10% of the population, but in medical school and engineering classes, I believe there is a higher percentage of left handers in these classes.

    Left handers may do be able to do more things with both hands, than a right hander.

    If I have to make a return at a store, and have a choice, I will get in the line, which has a left handed clerk. I always tell the representative that I am left handed.

  6. Wyn Brough says:

    Interesting- sorry I missed taking survey. I am almost 75 yo female leftie who adapted well living in rt hand world. Earned a black belt @ 32 yo (1 of 3 females in US at that time) in world-renowned Kyokushin karate…being left-handed was a great advantage 😊❗️

  7. albert j manfred says:

    Very interesting survey..One I hadn’t thought of was using the mouse and writing the same time…cool…Left handed boxers also have an advantage as the jab is coming from a different side and so is the knockout punch!!!

  8. Kristy says:

    Hi there! So happy I found you. All my life I felt different, never really fitting in. But I still embrace being left handed, constantly smearing the ink while I write. I’m able to see the fractals in things, not just the forest through the trees. I see all the patterns simultaneously. I get deep, and can easily slide down the rabbit hole, but luckily I have a strong ghost brain that keeps me pretty grounded. I accept that I’m different and can repel or attract others. Being extremely visual and an empath, I’m able to feel people’s pain and joy as if it is my own. Healing others comes naturally. So I’ve chosen a path of helping people and animals through volunteer work and 25 years of being a dog behaviorist. I absolutely agree that lefties make less income. That’s because we have a completely different perspective because we see the big picture and creating something with beautiful experiences is more important than money. I’m hoping you’d consider me to be part of one of your studies or surveys in the near future. I’m just so fascinated and curious about why lefties are so rare. Could it be that through evolution, right handers were the obedient humans that became docile and followed the pack becoming the majority even over 5,000 years ago?And us lefties had the innovation and courage to branch out, rebel and create our own paths? It’s something to consider.

  9. Janet ONeill says:

    Have you ever thought about twins. I did a survey quite a long time ago and the results were quite interesting. With identical twins there is at least one left handed . Sometimes both are left handed. It’s quite an interesting survey.

  10. Gary Shearer says:

    I am very left-handed, writing, drawing, throwing, batting, kicking, and everything else, with perhaps the exception of re-configuring my mouse keys, but this is because while growing up in the emerging world of computers, few people had their computer so you just work around it when you need to use a shared computer, and it helps when working with other peoples computers anyway. Things like can openers or potato-peelers and scissors don’t bother me, just get on with it.
    It is a privilege to be born left-handed, we have so many advantages. I have excelled at everything I have done. I played a sport and have been captain of athletics, soccer, rugby and cricket. I have also competed it moto-cross, foot-up trials, volleyball, tennis and golf.
    I am also exceptionally musical, and am a very good singer / musician, it should be mentioned if not noticed that a disproportionate number of the best vocalist/singers and (certain*) sports talent are left-handed.
    Unfortunately due to family problems when I was growing up, I had to leave school at age sixteen in order to help support the family. This was of course a handicap, having to take on menial work at times, but I always knew that I had I had more in me and managed to later school myself an now have my own business designing and developing electronic products for the Professional Audio, Automotive and Aerospace industries.
    The strange thing is that there is not one person in my family, near or distant that is left-handed.

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