Medical Definition of Handedness

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Handedness: The preferential use of one hand for most fine manual tasks. Right handedness is the preferential use of the right hand while left handedness is the preferential use of the left hand for most fine manual tasks. Being able to use both hands equally well is known as being ambidextrous. Approximately 90% of the population is right-handed while about 10% is left-handed. A very small percentage of the population is ambidextrous.

One study claimed that right-handed people live longer than lefties, as reflected by a decline in the proportion of lefties in the population with age. This study has since been repeatedly refuted.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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