Whether you see it as a sign of intelligence or a marker of evil, left-handedness is still relatively misunderstood in modern society. But there is one thing that scientists are certain about: left-handers are overrepresented amongst high achievers. Does billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates comply with this theory?
Yes, Bill Gates is left-handed. Talking to CBS News about his thoughts on left-handedness, Gates said: “There’s a little bit of higher variance of talent, high and low, for left-handers. But it’s never been explained”.
Numbers suggest around 90% of the population is right-handed, with the remaining 10% being left-handed or ambidextrous. How has being left-handed affected Bill’s life? Would he be just as successful if he was right-handed? Keep reading to find out more!
The Left-Handed Paradox
So what is it about left-handedness, as opposed to right-handedness, that results in increased intelligence and higher IQs?
One of the most seminal studies in this area comes from the psychologist, Stanley Coren. In a 1995 study, Coren found that left-handed men were better at divergent thinking than right-handed men. In particular, he established that left-handers are more adaptable, and have a better ability to come up with multiple solutions to the same problem.
But why is this? Well, being left-handed is linked to the right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for tasks relating to creativity. In this sense, left-handers have a natural talent for language and creativity.
This hypothesis has been fortified by more recent studies. In 2017 QZ found that left-handers outperformed right-handers in mathematical tasks related to problem-solving, such as associating mathematical functions of a given set of data. This pattern of results was particularly strong in left-handed male adolescents. So it seems that left-handedness could be a predictor of mathematical precociousness?
One theory for this distinction is that the world is designed for the majority, in other words, the right-handers. Everyday tasks such as using scissors or a can-opener are designed with right-handed people in mind, which forces left-handed people to learn to adapt. For this reason, it’s fair to say that right-handers have more straightforward lives.
But the upshot of this adaptability for left-handers is increased connectivity between their left and right brain hemispheres. This theory is supported by research from QZ, who found that left-handers tend to have larger corpus callosum, which is the area of the brain responsible for connecting the two hemispheres.
Looking at this from a different perspective, the QZstudy mentioned early highlighted a distinction between ‘extreme’ and ‘moderate’ right-handers. Extreme right-handers are people who use their right hand for everything, no exceptions. Moderate right-handers, whereas, are people who primarily use their right hand, but their left hand isn’t completely useless. The results from the study showed that extreme right-handers underperformed in all experiments.
Ultimately, these results suggest that being left-handed forces people to adapt and learn how to use their right hand, which in turn increases intellect and brain functioning.
It’s In His Destiny
It’s impossible to establish whether Bill Gates’ success is due to the fact he’s left-handed. But Bill is part of a growing list of successful people, past and present, who are all left-handed.
Other notable left-handers are:
1. Steve Jobs – co-founder of Apple and often seen as Bill Gates’ biggest competitor.
2. Mark Zuckerberg – CEO and founder of Facebook.
3. Barack Obama – 44thPresident of the United States.
4. Bill Clinton – 42ndPresident of the United States and husband of Hillary Clinton.
5. Winston Churchill – British Prime Minister during World War II.
6. George H.W. Bush – 41stPresident of the United States and father of 43rdpresident, George W. Bush.
7. Prince Charles – heir to the British throne.
8. Leonardo Da Vinci – Italian polymath during the Renaissance known for his painting, architecture, and engineering. In 1994 Bill Gates bought a 72-page journal belonging to Da Vinci for $30.8 million.
9. Mozart – Austrian composer often referred to as the best classical composer of all time.
10. Marie Curie – scientist responsible for discovering radium and polonium.