A study released Thursday concluded that left-handed people have lower average life expectancies than their right-handed counterparts. The difference in average life expectancy between the two is significant, with right-handed people living up to 11 years longer.
Right-handed women lived an average of six years longer than left-handed women. The difference in men was even more significant, with right-handed men living an average of 11 years longer.
Diane Halpern, a psychology professor at California State University at San Bernadino whoconducted the study, believes it has to do with cars and other such engineering being gearedtowards right-handed people. This often leads to more accidents involving left-handers who have a harder time operating most machinery, she says.The data showed that left-handed people were four times more likely to die from driving-related injuries, and six times more likely from auto accidents.
Emmet Clark is a political science major from Boca Raton in his junior year at UNF. His firstreaction to the study was to wonder how left-handed drivers fare in other parts of the globe dueto differences in how cars and traffic are designed.
“First thing that came to mind was that the driving death rate for lefties would probably be a lotlower in the U.K.,” he says. “Second would be that I’m right–handed, so ha.”
Freshman English major Jesse Raymer from Neptune Beach had never considered that left-handed people could have shorter life expectancies for this reason, but says it makes sense.
“My first thought is that was super weird and peculiar. I didn’t know left-handed people hadshorter life expectancies,” she says. “But when you think about it, everything is made for right–handed people. So I imagine there’s a lot of freak accidents that happen when lefties can’toperate right-handed tools and such.”
Halpern insists that there are many left-handed people among the elderly population, and urgesmothers of left-handed children to avoid trying to force them to use their right-hands due to this new data. In the early 20th century, most left-handed people were forced into being right-handed.
Sophomore nursing student Robert Murphy from Ponte Vedra is left-handed, and had his doubts about the legitimacy of the study and analyzed some potential flaws in the data.
“Why are there fewer left–handed people in the elderly population? Because there’s less of us ingeneral,” he says.
Left-handers make up a mere ten percent of the U.S. population.
“Because there’s less of us, the pool of people that they used for the sample is going to be a lot smaller. Some of us are going to die young, so that’s going to drastically skew the average compared to [right-handed people] because your sample group is going to be much larger and the occasional early death isn’t going to affect the overall average.”
There is no hard proof that correlation equals causation in this study, but most UNF studentsfound the data to be interesting and thought-provoking.