UCL News


UCL in the News: Left-handers on roll as numbers triple

16 September 2007

Left-handedness has reached record levels, with a more than threefold rise over the past century in the proportion of those using their left hand to write.

A large-scale historical study of handwriting down the ages by academics at UCL has found that the proportion of left-handers has gone up from 3% among those born more than 100 years ago to 11% today.

Chris McManus, professor of psychology at UCL, said the surge in left-handedness may be due to a reduction in attempts to coerce naturally left-handed children into using their right hands.

McManus's team have reinforced the theory that left-handedness is growing by analysing film shot about 1900 which shows that only 16% of those living at the beginning of the 20th century used their left arms to wave, compared with about 24% of people today. …

According to McManus's research, as the age of women at childbirth increases, even more lefties could be on the way because older women are more likely to bear left-handers. …

McManus believes the same genes that determine handedness have a strong influence on the development of language skills. Mutations in these genes may have caused humans to evolve complex language, distinguishing us from other apes, which are left and right-handed in roughly equal proportions. …

John Elliott, 'The Sunday Times'