The Ambidextrous Disadvantage

You’d imagine being ambidextrous would give you the edge and you’d have the whole world in your hands.

Not so.

A little written about piece of work from Corballis, Hattie and Fletcher (2008) is something bringing to the surface of our thinking and it focuses on handedness.

Handedness is the preference for using one hand over another. Certainly in every classroom I have ever taught in being left-handed is seen as a disadvantage. Certainly that’s the lived experience too for may who have to put up with a lack of consideration when it comes to scissors and seating plans.

So being ambidextrous much be a real advantage. It appears not.

Evidence from a large-scale study of 11-year olds in Britain suggests that ambidextrous individuals may be disadvantaged in tests of verbal, nonverbal, reading, and mathematical skills relative to right- and left-handers.

Corballis et al found that in their research “ambidextrous individuals perform more poorly than left- or right-handers, especially on subscales measuring arithmetic, memory, and reasoning, and extend that finding to adults.”

It has also been shown by Rodriguez et al (2010) that being ambidextrous is also associated with language difficulties and ADHD-like symptoms. Furthermore, Cherbuin et al (2011) found ambidexterity is also associated with greater age-related decline in brain volume. As always, the research findings are intriguing but there are a number of limitations to ponder.

The most disadvantaged group of children are those with no hand preference (mixed-handers).


Nature’s Experiment? Handedness and Early Childhood Development (Johnston et al, 2009)

Ambidextrousness And Memory: Can Dual Handedness Boost Your Brain? (Anthony Metivier, 2020)

Left-handed people ‘might be better at verbal tasks’, scientists claim (Barr, 2019)



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