chapter
5 Pages

Handedness in Animals

The concept of handedness originated in rela­ tion to human animals, and handedness in hu­ mans is documented from the earliest written records to the present time (Bryden, 1982; Har­ ris, 1980,1990; Herron, 1980; Porac Sc Coren, 1981). The concept includes both the idea that an individual uses one hand more frequently than the other and the related idea that perfor­ mance is more skilled or efficient with the pre­ ferred hand. The fact that throughout recorded history approximately 85-90% of humans have been right-handed has engendered a certain mystique around this phenomenon. Embedded in this discourse was the issue of whether the right-handedness of humans was socially con­ ditioned or inborn. The view that the right hand was the “right” one for humans to use was in­ corporated into many aspects of language, lit­ erature, and social custom, with positive asso­ ciations for the right and negative for the left. It is still generally stated that humans are right­ handed despite the fact that 10-15% of the population are left-handed or ambidextrous.