The shocking truth about left-handers

Famous left-handers include Angelina Jolie, Chewbacca the Wookie, Prince William and Bob Geldof. Notice a pattern? Me neither.

Economist Thomas Buser set to find out whether people who are left-handed have different social preferences: for example, are they more or less selfish? Are they more or less likely to believe that other people are to be trusted? Yes, we economists have diverse interests. It’s not all supply and demand diagrams these days, you know.

It turns out that left-handed men are significantly more likely to reciprocate when faced with generosity. They are more likely to believe that others can be trusted to return the favour, and are therefore more likely to be generous.

It’s isn’t clear why – but one reason might be because in left-handed men, the left and right sides of the brain are more integrated. This may make it easier for left-handed men to cope with social situations.

By contrast, left-handed women are much less altruistic than right-handed women, and are less likely to donate money.

So, do various left-handed celebrities fit the results? I decided to take a small sample of left-handed famous people, both real and fictional, and consider what sort of social tendencies they display.

Bob Geldof
Gender: Male
Social preferences: Did Live Aid, Band Aid, even has a “charity and justice” page on his website. Clearly a left-hander.

Chewbacca the Wookie
Gender: Male, apparently
Social preferences: Someone called Han Solo saved his life, and Chewbacca reciprocated by serving him for the rest of his life. Very keen on reciprocity then. George Lucas was faithful to the science in this area then, if not everywhere.

Angelina Jolie
Gender: Female
Social preferences: UN ambassador, keen on refugees, particularly children. On the other hand (ha ha) … Jennifer Aniston (need I say more?). Verdict: unclear, but the theory doesn’t seem to quite stack up here.

Overall: Clearly, too small a sample size to draw any conclusions. Well, what else did you expect?

Thomas Buser’s full paper is here.

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One Response to The shocking truth about left-handers

  1. john marghilano says:

    I’m left handed and I play Electric Bass Guitar upside down. The “E” string is on the bottom and the “G” string is on top. I guess it means something.

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