Being Left-Handed and Right-Handed
Left-handed people may find living in a right-handed world rather challenging. During all history, left-handed people were not accepted in society and even accused of being dirty or a witch. In Medieval era, people who were using their left-hand to write risked being suspected of demonic possession because it was believed that the devil himself was left-handed. Fortunately, people disposed of such falsely misconceptions about lefties. However, there are still many unpleasant things there are commonly associated with people who use left hand in their everyday life. They have trouble with sitting at desks, using spiral notebooks, cannot use most of the scissors, and, as some researchers claim, may live shorter than their right-handed counterparts. However, studies show that left-handers may also have some advantages. For example, it has been estimated that there were more left-handed people who possessed IQs over 140, such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin. The purpose of this paper is to inform the reader about being left and right hardness. There are advantages and disadvantages about being left and right handed depending on different contexts, but left-handed people are being controlled in order to survive in the right handed world.
The disposition to left-handedness can be found in the hemispheres of the human brain. As it is known, the brain consists of two almost the same parts, or hemispheres. It has been also discovered for a long time that the hemispheres are “cross-wired,” meaning that the left one controls the right part of the body, and the right one – the left part. However, the hemispheres possess some differences between them, which manifest themselves in functional specializations. For example, speech production and language recognition are located in the left side of the brain while emotion processing and artistic functions typically take place in the right one. In 1980s, physiologist Paul Broca found out that an individual’s left-handedness indicates on a specialized right hemisphere.
However, later, physicists estimated that there are exceptions to the relation between the brain and handedness. Although the frequency of right hemisphere being dominant increases with the frequency being left-handed, some mismatches sometimes occur. In 1990s, a range of scientists discovered that, even though approximately 95% of right-handed people have left hemisphere as a dominant one, only about 19% of left-handed people have the right hemisphere as the dominant one. In addition, roughly 20% do not have dominant hemisphere.
Many left-handed people throughout their lifespan learn to use their right hand to write, cut and perform other actions. Most often, this happens due to various societal prejudices, such as “a mechanical adherence to traditionalism, would-be reasons of practicality, laziness, ignorance, and often even reasons with a religious-ideological background” . Some individuals become converted to right-handedness, and some become ambidextrous. For example, my sister is partly ambidextrous, as she almost equally adept in using her left and right hands. The most interesting things about her handedness, is that she, as well as the majority of left-handed people, has acquired a skill to adapt to managing and using objects that were mainly designed for right-handed world. She often uses writer’s computer that has a mouse placed on the opposite side and the click buttons reversed to opposing configuration. However, she feels that it is hard to get used to it, because she has already learned the other way. Probably, that is why it might be hard to the design products for left-handed people because they have already adapted. People have proven the capability to adapt to the use of their non-preferred hand due to social or cultural pressure. Although, the ability to use both hands equally well seems like a useful skill. However, studies show that conversion of handedness may lead to serious consequences, especially if a person uses non-preferred hand for writing. This conversion contradicts the natural state of individual as it does not change the dominance of one’s brain hemisphere. Instead, it causes the other part of the brain to over-load. Studies indicate that converting one’s handedness may result in such conditions as memory and concentration problems, difficulties in reading and writing, disorientation about the left and right sides, problems with motor skills (may result in bad handwriting), and speech impairments. As the result, these disorders may lead to a range of secondary outcomes, such as inferiority complexes, introversion, and other emotional problems associated with behaviour and personality. Therefore, the problem of involuntary conversion of handedness requires thorough research in order to estimate its causes and develop adequate solutions.
One of the most significant factors that contribute to left-handers being forced to use their right hands, which is the fact that the world objects are mainly designed by right-handed people. In fact, most products are designed for right-handed use. It makes sense, as about 90% of people “are right-handed and show a lefthemispheric dominance for manual skill”. I have graduated from Visual Communication BA, and been told to design left to right to help guide users on Internet websites. Visitors read articles from left to right, so I should layout the most important content and elements in designs to where a reader’s eye is going to look first. For this intention, left-handed users are seeking information and clicking on banners also from right to left because they have been taught and excised to do so, not because of emotional connections to my design style of websites.
I designed a spoon for only right-handed users which is inconvenient to be manipulated with the right hand (Figure 1). Due to its shape left-handers would be forced to take it in their non-preferred hand even if they are not used to. This product influences people’s behaviour and can be considered as a powerful tool of manipulation, and even control. People designed numerous ways to intentionally manipulate other individuals’ behaviour, from hypnosis to war propaganda to advertisement.
Every person is exposed to some form of psychological manipulation in his/her everyday life. One of the examples is a marketing strategies used in supermarkets. Marketing experts indicate that people made about 70 present of their purchasing decisions directly in supermarkets during shopping. Therefore, they employ various techniques to create a more comfortable atmosphere and make a shopping experience as much compelling to buy as possible through the use of music, appealing visuals, and lighting. Even the smell of fresh-baked bread in the supermarket plays the role of stimulus to make consumers buy it. This smell causes a sensation of being warm, comfy, and homely. Apparently, people think that they should buy some bread even if they have come in only for a pint of milk. Sometimes, the bread smell is not real, and there is no bakery. However, the marketing specialist know what they are doing and why. They are not just influencing, but rather manipulating on people’s subconscious by triggering the respective psychological mechanisms, and this practice has now become commonplace.
Similarly, the products designed for the right-handed influence the behaviour of people. From early childhood, left-handers are exposed to this influence, which could further impact behaviour and form habits that may last till adulthood and beyond. Parents and educators nowadays are not used to impose the change of handedness as they do not make their children to change handedness habits as they did before, for example by beating children’s wrists for writing with left hand. However, throughout their lives, lefties have to adapt in order to survive in the right-handed world. For example, most tools, such as power tools, are designed for the use in the right hand, and if used otherwise can harm a person. Thus, it can be said that people come under influence of indirect factors of environment. In fact, the prevalence of right-handed products does not leave them much of the choice; they would either get used to manipulating objects as the majority or would not be able to use them at all, or use them in a wrong way that might be greatly uncomfortable, or even result in an injury. Looking back at my example of a right-handed spoon, it can be said its very design controls the behaviour of individuals. Even if the individual is not adapted to use his right hand, he/she would still do it because it appears to be more convenient than using it with his/her dominant hand.
In conclusion, the times in which left-handed people were stigmatized and prosecuted have passed. However, even in modern times, people with a dominant left hand find face a significant amount of socio-cultural pressures that that cause them to adapt to the right-handed world. This essay identified factors of influence, manipulation and control as common denominators. Influence, manipulation and control exist in a variety of spheres of human activity through design which operates within contexts. The example of right-handed products show besides influence and manipulation, left-handed people are subjected to control. Despite of the fact whether right-handed people notice that the product actually does not work for left-handers or not, they still would use it with their right hand in the absence of choice. Therefore, our society should not just to tolerate left-handed people but also become user-friendly for people whose preference of handedness differs from the one of the majority group.