33 Unheard Ambidextrous Facts That Will Surely Amaze You!

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 12, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Feb 15, 2022
Let's learn some unique ambidextrous facts!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.7 Min

Ambidexterity is the rare ability to use both hands remarkably well for tasks, such as writing, with equal eloquence from either hand.

Have you ever wondered why you naturally reach out to break a fall with your right hand? Or why you offer your left hand for a handshake?

Most people are either right-handed or left-handed by nature. Human psychology dictates hand dominance, which is why the world is largely run by right-handers.

Some studies suggest that the propensity for using the right hand is a result of genetics. However, there is no conclusive evidence to provide an idea about why more than 90% of the population is predisposed to using their right hand.

Ambidextrous people do not have a dominant hand and, therefore, don't have a particular preference of which hand to use. However, this does not apply to every ambidextrous person.

Right or left-handedness is not something you would normally think about because it is a basic function that comes to you just as naturally as breathing.

However, hand dominance actually plays a vital role in the human psyche. A lot of things about a person, such as their ability to learn and their intelligence, are affected by the science behind hand dominance, whether they are right-handed, left-handed, mixed-handed or ambidextrous.

What is ambidexterity?

Ambidexterity is the ability of a person to use both their left and right hand with equal motor skills. People who might have trained themselves to use their non-dominant hands are not naturally indifferent to hand dominance.

There is also another interesting category of people who have a skill similar to ambidextrous people - mixed handedness. Neither of these categories is recognized as ambidexterity. You'll find out why below.

  • Only about 1% of the world's population is naturally ambidextrous: this means they were born with the innate ability to use both hands equally well and were not trained to do so. 1% is a rare number for a population of seven billion human beings; that's one out of every 100!
  • Do you know what is rarer than ambidextrous people? Ambidextrous athletes! Ambidextrous people are very valuable in sports as they can make maneuvers that are normally difficult for a regular athlete. A famous example would be Cristiano Ronaldo, who taught himself to play with both feet!
  • Some people become ambidextrous after injuries. For example, if a right hander's dominant hand is rendered immobile, they will adapt themselves to left-handedness.
  • Ambidextrous children often start out as left-handed. They train themselves to become ambidextrous people because certain tasks are difficult to perform without a dominant right hand. The use of the right hand is promoted in all areas of life, be it at home, school or the workplace.
  • Here's a little trivia: the Latin word 'sinistra', which is where we get the word 'sinister' from, means 'left'. Around the middle ages, there was a lot of stigmas associated with left-handed people, forcing them to learn to use both their left and right sides.
  • In 1903, John Jackson founded the Ambidextral Culture Society that advocated for the belief that brain hemispheres were independent of each other. He denounced the world's preference for right-handedness as a waste of brainpower. This came as a relevant movement at a time when left-handedness was associated with evilness, and those who used their left hands were stigmatized and punished.
  • Ambidexterity can be willingly developed by left-handed or right-handed people. People like to train themselves to become ambidextrous simply to gain an additional skill. If you have a dominant left hand or would like to show off how well a right-hander's left-hand works, you could do this too!
  • Mixed-handedness refers to the ability to perform certain tasks with both hands, such as playing the piano or guitar. Mixed-handed people are not considered to be truly ambidextrous because each hand is doing a separate task, and is only possible in certain contexts. For example, actions that mimic the playing of instruments, like typing on a keyboard.
  • Ambidexterity is a factor that plays a key role in the modern-day industry, especially in the manufacturing of basic tools such as headphones and ambidextrous models of scissors. The convenience and accessibility of customers have been the inspiration for such innovations.
  • Nowadays, even firearm manufacturers take into account those who favor their left-hand side while rolling out arms for militaries. This is an efficient approach because it is easier to adapt to handedness than to reorganize your hand-eye coordination.

Who coined the term 'ambidextrous'?

Although it is unclear exactly who coined the term, the word has its roots in Latin.

  • The term originates from the Latin words 'ambi' and 'dexter'. 'Ambi' means 'both', and 'dexter' translates to 'the right' or 'favorable' - together forming the word 'ambidextrous' which means 'both right' or 'both favorable'.
  • It is believed that the word evolved from the late Latin word 'ambidexter', meaning someone who could use both hands with equal prowess.
  • However, the term 'ambidexter' was also interestingly used to refer to duplicitous people or lawyers who took fees from both the plaintiff and defendant!
  • 'Ambidexter' was first recorded in 1598 in the sense given above, and then in 1613 to describe ambidextrous people.
  • The first recorded use of the term 'ambidextrous' was in 1593, to refer to people who could use both right and left hands.
Keep reading for more ambidextrous facts and interesting details about handedness below.

Characteristics Of An Ambidextrous Person

Although ambidexterity has a lot to do with the brain, ambidextrous people tend to be more attuned to physical sensations. Isn't it interesting that their physical abilities often overshadow brain power? Check out these intriguing characteristics about ambidextrous people:

  • Ambidextrous people perform poorly in math and reasoning compared to people with a dominant hand. Various studies have shown that they score lower than the average person on intelligence tests. Sometimes ambidextrous people also struggle with languages and other parts of academia.
  • Did you know that ambidextrous people are more prone to ADHD than right-handed people? A Finnish study conducted in 2010 found that left-handed and ambidextrous teenagers were twice as likely to have ADHD. Of those who had already been diagnosed with the condition, it was concluded that ambidextrous teenagers experienced more severe symptoms.
  • Some studies show that ambidextrous people are quicker to anger than people with a dominant hand. They also tend to be a bit more easily swayed by emotions and surroundings, while right-handed people are harder to move. These behavioral differences often present themselves as awkwardness and moodiness.
  • Some people can use both their hands with the efficacy of a right-hander's right hand. These people are referred to as 'ambidextral'.
  • On the other hand, some ambidextrous people can use both hands, but only with the clumsy efficiency of a right-hander's left hand. They are described by the term 'ambisinistral'.
  • LRRTM1 is a gene that contributes to left-handedness. Unfortunately, it also increases a person's risk of developing schizophrenia. This is relevant information for ambidextrous people because their brains are very similar to those of left-handed people. The likelihood of a person with schizophrenia being left-handed or ambidextrous is quite higher than the chances of them being a rightie.
  • On the flip side, there are several advantages to being ambidextrous too. It is quite a useful skill in the fields of sport, art and music. Several historic figures, such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin, were ambidextrous. A fun tidbit - Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence with his left hand!
  • A niche where ambidexterity becomes relevant is sports car racing. Although the driver's steering ability is not greatly affected despite which side the steering wheel is mounted on, a person with a non-dominant hand can easily change gears. This is a common advantage for all drivers who need to switch driving sides in a different country. For example, you might have to pull the lever in opposite directions and operate them with either hand if you took part in events in the U.S. as well as Europe.
  • Because many common objects, like scissors, are not ambidextrous, left-handed people are more likely than right-handed people to develop good skills in their non-dominant hands.
  • Personal accounts of people who learned to become ambidextrous recount cool talents like being able to write backwards with your left hand, and copying down two sheets of notes at once. Indeed a handy skill to have!

What is the relationship between ambidexterity and the brain?

There's more to ambidexterity than uniquely wired hand dominance or motor skills. Apart from physical abilities, an ambidextrous person has a uniquely crafted brain too! Right-handed people are left-brain dominant. However, ambidextrous people don't have a dominant side. Read on to learn what this means.

  • All right-handed people have leftie-brains, however, left-handed people and ambidextrous people share similar brain chemistry. They have symmetrical brains, which means neither of their brain hemispheres is dominant.
  • A symmetrical brain means only one of the brain hemispheres is used for logical reasoning, leaving the right side to process other kinds of information, such as emotions and language skills. This gives ambidextrous people leverage when it comes to creativity.
  • Around 95% of right-handed people have asymmetrical brains. This means they are strongly left-brain dominant and have better mathematical and logical reasoning skills than ambidextrous people.
  • Although the left side of the brain presides over math and logic, Albert Einstein was naturally ambidextrous and yet one of the smartest people to ever have lived!
  • Synesthesia, or 'mixed senses', is an interesting phenomenon that causes the brain to process more than one of the five senses at once. The symmetry of the brain hemispheres is a common trait between ambidextrous people and people with synesthesia. As a result, synesthetes are more likely to be ambidextrous or left-handed.
  • Studies suggest that ambidexterity is not advantageous from an evolutionary perspective. A person's brain is supposed to be specialized. When both the right and left sides are almost symmetrical, it doesn't allow the brain to function with maximum efficiency.
  • Although research has found links between ambidexterity and brain hemispheres, there isn't yet a coherent answer for what causes this rare phenomenon. Some studies have found that testosterone plays a role in the formation of symmetrical brains. This is backed by the fact that men have a relatively higher propensity towards left-handedness and ambidexterity.
  • If you were to train your limbs to become ambidextrous, it could take anywhere between a few months to long years. This depends on what your goal is - developing minimal motor skills is not too hard a task for the brain. However, if you want your non-dominant hand to perform all tasks with as much facility as your dominant hand, it would probably take a long time and a lot of dedication!

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Sources

https://www.livescience.com/8044-ambidextrous-children-problems-school.html

https://yourbrain.health/ambidextrous-brain/

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/30667/11-facts-about-ambidextrous

https://study.com/academy/lesson/ambidextrous-people-definition-brain-activity.html

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ambidexterity#h1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambidexterity

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/03/can-you-boost-your-brain-power-by-making-yourself-ambidextrous

https://www.livescience.com/32523-why-are-some-people-ambidextrous.html

https://www.rd.com/list/facts-ambidextrous-people/

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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