Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Left-Handed People in a Right-Handed World: A Phenomenological Study

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Left-Handed People in a Right-Handed World: A Phenomenological Study

Article excerpt

The purpose of this research was to explore the experiences of left-handed adults. Four semi-structured interviews were conducted with left-handed adults (2 men and 2 women) about their experiences. After transcribing the data, interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), which is a qualitative approach, was utilized to analyze the data. The analysis highlighted some major themes which were organized to make a model of life experiences of left-handers. The highlighted themes included Left-handers' Development: Interplay of Heredity Basis and Environmental Influences, Suppression of Left-hand, Support and Consideration, Feeling It Is Okay, Left-handers as Being Particular, Physical and Psychological Health Challenges, Agonized Life, Struggle for Maintaining Identity and Transforming Attitude, Attitudinal Barriers to Equality and Acceptance. Implications of the research for parents, teachers, and psychologists are discussed.

Keywords: Left-handedness, suppression, discrimination, IPA

Right-handedness or dexterity (from Latin word "dextra", meaning right) is an estimable trait very different from being left-handed or sinister (Latin "sinistra", left). Left-handedness is a tendency to use the left-hand more proficiently than the right-hand. A person can be thought to be a left-hander when he/she attains better results with the left hand, as well as when he/she gives preference to the left hand in activities which need strength, good co-ordination and accuracy (Meyer, 1998). As universally known, generally people use right hand overwhelmingly than the left and the population which is more agile with the left hand is comparatively small, i.e., about 10-15%.

For centuries, individuals' have been in search for the answers that why people have a preference for left-hand over the right and why the left hand is chosen in such a minority (Franklin, 2008). The evidence for the determination of left-handedness has been attributed to heredity, environment, or to the brain functioning and data of various sorts have been used in attempts to establish one fact or another.

Left-handedness in Different Cultures and Religions

In determination of hand preference, culture, and religion also play their role. The difference between left and right-handers in different cultures and belief systems focuses on the likelihood that left-handedness may be a sign or an indicator of some pathology, problem or evil. Supporters of this perspective have suggested that these problems have been noticeable enough to work their way into folk psychology. The traditions from numerous disparate cultures reflect the underlying assumption that right-handedness is allied with normality and left-handedness stands for abnormality or pathology.

Stan Gooch (as cited in Crabtree, 2002a) highlights the fact that in vast majority of cultures, from every continent like Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, and America, the "left" is normally associated with femininity and the "right" with masculinity.

Left-handedness is extremely disapproved in most cultures. Ancient Greeks and Romans considered the left side as imperfect and blasphemous. In Nigeria, people are inclined to view left-handedness as worst as a sign of evil or at best an expectantly curable adversity. About half a century ago in Japan, left-handedness in a wife was thought to be more than enough for divorce. Only a decade ago in Taiwan, left-handed people were highly supported to swap to being right-handed or at least to write with the right-hand (Dada, 2000; Handedness, 2009; Kalafiit, 2008).

In South America, the right is regarded as good, life and divine but the left as bad, evil and morose. Similarly, among North American Indians the right stands for bravery and virility but the left indicates death and interment (Crabtree, 2002b).

Mandal and Dutta (2001) establish in a series of studies that about 10% of humans are left-handed, though the prevalence rate varies due to sex, age, and cultural geographical locations. …

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