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Endeavour. 2013 Jun;37(2):71-81. doi: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2012.12.003. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Why are there (almost) no left-handers in China?

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1
Emory University, Department of Behavioral Sciences & Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health and Program in Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology, 1518 Clifton Road, NE, 5th floor, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. hkushne@emory.edu

Abstract

Surveys of Chinese students since the 1980s report that less than 1% are left-handed. This is an extraordinarily low number given the generally accepted view that between 10 and 12% of humans are left-handed. Are there actually very few left-handers in China and, if so, why? A number of sometimes overlapping reasons have shaped Chinese attitudes toward left-handedness. Some of these reflect the transcendent human reactions to biological laterality. Others have been shaped by Chinese historical and cultural experience. What is true in China can be identified in other societies: attitudes and practices toward left-handers have been and continue to be shaped by over-determined forces, which at the same time transcend specific cultures, while they respond to historical and cultural pressures. Like the Chinese, many North and East African peoples attempt to 'cure' left-handedness by a combination of restraints and severe punishments. Religion has often reinforced these practices. In China, we can see how a combination of traditional values and practical considerations seems to have merged to reduce both the actual and reported prevalence of left-handedness. When we add in the population of India, and much of the remaining Islamic world, we can conclude that for two-thirds of the world's population, being born left-handed exposes one to discrimination and stigma.

PMID:
23375555
DOI:
10.1016/j.endeavour.2012.12.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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