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Are you right or left-handed... or both?


This was the question the researchers were trying to find the answer to. They wanted to see if handedness is related to how accident-prone a person is.


It seems that most people are not solely right-handed, or solely left-handed. Depending on the task they may switch their dominant hand without even knowing. You may only ever write with your left hand, but which hand do you use to unscrew a jar, pick up a mug or sharpen a pencil? We are all ambidextrous to a certain degree.


In the past it has been suggested that left-handed people are more accident-prone. This now seems unlikely and psychologists think the classification of handedness was to blame. It seems that people had been classified as either right-handed, or left-handed - there was no category for people who used both hands. All these mixed-handers were lumped together with the left-handers.


This study aimed to tease out the three groups - left-handers, right-handers and mixed-handers to see whether mixed-handers are more accident-prone.

Mirror tracing
Steady hand wire
  Subjects were asked to trace a star in a mirror, without being able to see what their hands were doing.   Dr Penny Fidler trys the 'steady hand wire' whilst Dr Priscilla Heard (left) and researcher Minty Hull look on.


Hand dynamometer
Placing blocks
  Subjects could find out exactly how strong each of their hands were using this hand dynamometer.   Placing blocks allowed the researchers to look at manual dexterity.