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New study explains why lefties are rare

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How many lefties do you personally know? If you can say more than 10 names in rapid succession, you must know a lot of people... or at least a lot of athletes — only 10% of the general human population is left-handed, and that includes the President of the United States. Instances of left-handedness among athletes, however, are much higher. But why is that the case, exactly?

new study by Northwestern University researchers suggests that the percentage of lefties has been more or less the same for the past 5,000 years due to a high degree of cooperation among humans. Sure, we don't really get along with everyone, and countries, organizations, and individuals seem to always be in conflict with one another, but we do share the same tools. "The more social the animal — where cooperation is highly valued — the more the general population will trend toward one side," said Daniel Abrams, one of the researchers.

So why then is left-handedness much more common in sports? You can probably list a few southpaw athletes off the top of your head even now. In baseball, there's Babe Ruth; Pelé for soccer;  Monica Seles for tennis; and in boxing, there's Manny Pacquiao. Well, according to the study, in a world where there's more competition than cooperation, the 90-10 statistic gets a little bit less one-sided. A left-handed athlete, after all, would have some advantage in a right-handed world, which explains why a few athletes train to become ambidextrous.

According to the researchers, genetics isn't the only reason for one's handedness. This left-handed writer, for instance, can sew, lift heavy objects, and punch with her right hand. But since her left-handed mother was the one who taught her how to hold a pencil and write, she's mostly a lefty.

[via Sci Guru]

This article was written by Mariella Moon and originally appeared on Tecca

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