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Human Laterality Information and Right or Left Hand Test

Published: 2020-02-04 - Updated: 2023-09-17
Author: Disabled World - Contact Details
Peer-Reviewed: N/A - Publication Type: Charts / Graphs / Tables
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On This Page: Summary - Defining Handedness - Main Article - About/Author

Synopsis: Information, facts and statistics regarding human laterality, the preference for one side of the body over the other. Includes right or left handedness test. A cross-dominant person might write with the right hand and kick a ball using the left foot. Ambidexterity means a person has no preference for the use of the right or left hand. There are number of different tests and measurement scales used to assess the dominance of a person's right or left hand in everyday activities, also referred to as laterality.



In humans, handedness is an individual preference for use of a hand, known as the dominant hand; the incapable, less capable or less preferred hand is called the non-dominant hand. It is estimated that around 90% of the world's population is right-handed. Because the vast majority of the population is right-handed, many devices are designed for use by a right-handed person, which makes their use by left-handed people more difficult.

Main Digest

If you're left-handed you are in good company; Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama are all left-handed. However, the majority of humans are right-handed. Many are also right-sided in general (they prefer to use their right eye, right foot and right ear if forced to make a choice between the two).


International Left-Handers Day is held annually every August 13th. It was founded by the Left-Handers Club in 1992 - the club itself was founded in 1990. International Left-Handers Day is, according to the club, "an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality (left-handedness) and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed."

The term laterality refers to the preference most humans show for one side of their body over the other. Examples include left-handedness/right-handedness and left/right-footedness; it may also refer to the primary use of the left or right hemisphere in the brain. When a person is forced to use the hand opposite of the hand that they would naturally use, this is known as forced laterality, or more specifically forced dextrality. Ambidexterity is when a person has approximately equal skill with both hands and/or both sides of the body.

Article continues below image.
Simple diagram of lateralization of human brain function.
Simple diagram of lateralization of human brain function.

So We Have:

Approximate Statistics For the Above Are:

Handedness Test

Though most people are right-handed or left-handed, there are different "degrees" of handedness. Some people use one hand for jobs that require skill and the other hand for jobs that involve reaching.

There are number of different tests and measurement scales used to assess the dominance of a person's right or left hand in everyday activities, also referred to as laterality. We have included one such handedness test for you to try below:

Hand Dominance Test

For each of the questions below select a point option:

Always RIGHT = +2
Usually RIGHT = +1
No preference = 0
Usually LEFT = -1
Always LEFT = -2

Hand Preference:Always
Writing a letter legibly -2 -1 0 +1 +2
Throwing ball to hit a target -2 -1 0 +1 +2
Playing game requiring use of a racquet -2 -1 0 +1 +2
At top of broom when sweeping -2 -1 0 +1 +2
At top of a shovel when shoveling -2 -1 0 +1 +2
To hold a match when striking it -2 -1 0 +1 +2
To hold scissors to cut paper -2 -1 0 +1 +2
To hold thread to guide through the eye of a needle -2 -1 0 +1 +2
To deal playing cards -2 -1 0 +1 +2
To hammer a nail into wood -2 -1 0 +1 +2
To hold toothbrush while cleaning teeth -2 -1 0 +1 +2
To unscrew the lid of a jar -2 -1 0 +1 +2
Determining Your Score

For each of the 12 questions, assign point values:

Add up your scores for the 12 questions. The maximum score is +24 (extreme right handedness), the minimum score is -24 (extreme left handedness).


Interpreting Your Score

Scores can be divided into three parts:

-24 to -9 = Left handed
-8 to +8 = Mixed handed
+9 to +24 = Right handed

Data from the paper of Briggs and Nebes (1975) for college students
Left handedMixed handedRight handedTOTAL
Males 74 (8.9%) 47 (5.7%) 710 (85.4%) 831
Females 72 (9.4%) 37 (4.8%) 659 (85.8%) 768
Totals 146 84 1369 1599

Testing Other Aspects of Laterality

Other aspects of laterality can also be tested quite simply. For example;

  • Footedness is easily established by noting which foot is instinctively used to kick a ball.
  • Ear preference is quite effectively tested by noting which ear tends to be used to listen on a telephone.
  • Eye preference can be tested by noting which eye is used to look through a keyhole or a camera viewfinder. But another good test of "eyedness" can be carried out as follows: point with one finger at a distant object with both eyes open; then close one eye; if the finger is still well aligned with the object then the open eye is the dominant one (closing the other eye should then reveal that the finger is no longer closely aligned with the object).

This questionnaire was adapted from the handedness questionnaire by Briggs, G.G. and Nebes, R.D., Patterns of hand preference in a student population, Cortex, 11:230-238, 1975)

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