Are Left-Handed People More Violent?

Recently it has been found that there is a strong, positive correlation between the incidence of left-handedness in a society and its homicide rate. It has been proposed that the trait of left-handedness thrives in such societies because their advantage in hand-to-hand combat is so great that it is able to offset the numerous disadvantages associated with left-handedness- schizophrenia, autism, ulcerative colitis, migraines, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, stuttering, asthma, dyslexia, etc.

If left-handedness is more prevalent in violent societies, would it also stand to reason that violent individuals are more likely to be left-handed? This could easily be determined just by examining prison populations.

Has such a study been conducted? What were the results??


Are you asking whether left-handers are more likely to be violent, or whether violent people are more likely to be left-handed?

ultrafilter-“Are you asking whether left-handers are more likely to be violent, or whether violent people are more likely to be left-handed?”

I would be interested in knowing if there was any truth to either of these hypotheses, but I assume that the first would be very difficult to determine.


  1. Ninjas are mammals
  2. Ninjas fight ALL the time!
  3. The purpose of Ninjas is to flip out and kill people
  4. Ninjas are left handed

I’m a lefty too

Well, first i’d like to see some evidence of your opening assertion that “it has been found that there is a strong, positive correlation between the incidence of left-handedness in a society and its homicide rate.”

Don’t screw with me, I’m left handed and I’m not afraid to use it!

My daughter is a lefty… were as me and her mother are both righties

Proving once and for all that: two rights DO make a left.

As a lefty, this post insults the @%# out of me. I suggest you ask a moderator to close it before I track down your $@#'ing IP address, find out where you are, and kick the *%@!? out of you, okay?

Hmmm, since I am ambidextrous does that mean I’m likely to beat you within inches of your life then cuddle you afterwards?

Two points: First, in the OP, Surreal does not provide any reference for the claim that, “Recently it has been found that there is a strong, positive correlation between the incidence of left-handedness in a society and its homicide rate.” It’s news to me.

Second, if there is a link between left-handedness and violence, they’re probably just grouchy because “sinister” means “left” in English, and that “sinister” in heraldry implies “bastard.” Wouldn’t that tick you off if you were a southpaw?

This is probably a reference to a study cited in the Economist of two weeks ago. I can’t seem to find a stable link to it, but you can probably track it down somewhere. The gist of the study was that since people don’t expect a strong left side attack, left-handers are more successful fighters. This means that in societies that are prone to mortal combat (for whatever reason) there are more left-handers because they are more successful fighters. Studies of several such societies seems to bare this out.

Of course, if the OP was actually referring to this study, he/she clearly didn’t read it (since it would have answered the initial question). So maybe the OP is referring to something else altogether. In which case, I suggest you read the above-mentioned study. :smiley:

Here’s the relevant cite:

I agree generally with the first sentence above. Now all we need to prove is the premise is true. Can you provide a cite?

I don’t quite understand the meaning of your second sentence. If you mean we can determine the percent of lefties in prison population thru study, I agree. But if you mean we can determine which society is violent by finding the percentage of lefties, we seem to be going around in circles–your premise has yet to be proven. .

Simulpost, wheee!

That violent individuals are more likely to be left-handed does not follow from left-handedness being more prevalent in violent societies. The society may be more violent for any number of reasons, its just that left-handers are more successful in it.

In martial arts, I’ve always heard that there were no left-handed Japanese swordsmen, which is why many kendo, iaido and other Japanese sword arts don’t teach left-handed grips, draws or techniques. This isn’t a firm rule, but more of a tradition. Supposedly, if you wore your katana on your right hip (as a lefty would do) you were much more likely to commit a faux pas during rituals, upset another swordsman, and get yourself killed. You were also at a severe disadvantage in some of the dueling situations where a left-handed draw would have to be done inside, which is a weak and slow technique.

I don’t have any historical evidence for any of this, just what I’ve been told by people who do JSA. Even if it’s true, it may not make much difference to the OP’s premise since, while ancient Japan was a society which had mortal combat, it was also very ritualistic which removed the advantage a lefty would have. It’s certainly true that in general unrestrained sparring, a lefty has an advantage over a righty because both have trained predominantly against righties. This advantage would decrease as the proportion of lefties in the population grew, such as in the case of the Yanomamo in Zhao Daoli’s cite.

That’s an interesting point. One wonders whether given a long enough time period an equilibrium is reached.

Left-handed violence is also interesting the context that left-handers are overrepresented in “genius” groups like MENSA. So does being left-handed make you more or less likely to win a schoolyard fight?

I’m not sure if this is a cite or not, but my uncle (a lefty) spent quite a bit of time in federal prison. He told me that a very high percentage of prisoners are left-handed.

Also, here is an article about lefties, violence and hand-to-hand combat.

That’s not a cite, that’s an anedote.

The New Scientist article fails to disclose what variables the authors of the study controlled for. This diminishes its credibility.

Furthermore, the very logic of the left-handed affinity for violence is self-defeating. In a violent society that supposedly has 27% left-handedness, right-handed people would be far more accustomed to defending themselves against those irascible and numerous lefties. This would in turn seriously erode the left handed advantage, which in turn ought to depress the homicide rate.

I am just a left handed fencer and kickboxer, what do I know?

Nonsense. It takes three rights to make a left. So which one of you was seeing someone on the side?