Left-handers think right is wrong

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The right hand is the sinister one as far as left-handers are concerned, according to researchers.

The left hand has alway had a bad press, being associated with death, witchcraft and evil.

But according to Daniel Casasanto of Stanford University, left-handers tend to associate the left with nice and good things and the right with ugly and bad things - despite the enormous power of cultural context and language.

In one experiment, Casasanto asked participants to draw boxes representing good things and bad things.

Most right-handed people located good things in the box on the right while left-handers placed them in the box on the left. Interestingly, only 14 percent of participants thought that their choice had anything to do with their dominant hand.

In other tasks, participants were asked to rate pairs of objects or people, indicating which of the two seemed more intelligent, more honest, more attractive and happier.

In all tasks, right-handers tended to evaluate the object on the right better, while left-handers favoured the one on the left.

Julio Santiago of the University of Granada points out that association between right and left with the symbolic systems of the world cultures reaches almost every aspect of life.

"Thus, right and left are respectively associated with aristocratic and common people, male and female, sacred and profane, good and bad," he says.

"Eventually, these partnerships control aspects of life as varied as the position in which dead are buried, distribution of space in homes and churches, positions in which men and women sit at the table or in the temple and the hand chosen for saluting, swearing, eating or bathing."