Left-handedness: a marker for decreased survival fitness

Psychol Bull. 1991 Jan;109(1):90-106. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.109.1.90.


Life span studies have shown that the population percentage of left-handers diminishes steadily, so that they are drastically underrepresented in the oldest age groups. Data are reviewed that indicate that this population trend is due to the reduced longevity of left-handers. Some of the elevated risk for sinistrals is apparently due to environmental factors that elevate their accident susceptibility. Further evidence suggests that left-handedness may be a marker for birth stress related neuropathy, developmental delays and irregularities, and deficiencies in the immune system due to the intrauterine hormonal environment. Some statistical and physiological factors that may cause left-handedness to be selectively associated with earlier mortality are also presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Functional Laterality* / genetics
  • Functional Laterality* / physiology
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Longevity* / genetics
  • Longevity* / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate


  • Genetic Markers