Martijn van Mensvoort - © Hand Research

MAY 11, 2008

Handedness & Leadership Styles
Degree of candidates’ handedness may predict leadership styles, according to UT professor

Author: Jon Strunk

Hand News from: Toledo, USA

As the political fervor of the last few weeks has passed with Ohio’s March 4 primary, voters may want to to look at presidential candidates’ handedness when they consider who to vote for in November. They also may look at their own manual preferences for clues on how they process candidate information.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are right-handed or left-handed, but rather how dominant-handed or ambidextrous you are that offers a clue as to whether you are willing to listen to new arguments and update your belief structure,” said Dr. Stephen Christman, UT professor of psychology and an expert in behavioral psychology who was featured in a Columbus Dispatch article the day before the primary.

Those who have one hand far more dominant than the other are more likely to hold fast to current beliefs, Christman said. Conversely, people who are more ambidextrous are more apt to adjust their beliefs as they acquire new information. Christman, who has done extensive research on handedness and its effects on how a person changes views, noted that left-handed people generally are more able to use both hands.

Dr. Stephen Christman, professor of psychology, University of Toledo

But it’s not just a question of handedness affecting voters’ willingness to change their minds, Christman said, adding handedness could play a role in determining how candidates would lead.

A president who has a very dominant hand would be more likely to hold to current convictions and discount new information if it conflicted with present beliefs. A president with more equal hand usage abilities would be more likely to place more credence in new information and alter his or her belief structure because of that new knowledge, Christman said.

For example, the first President Bush was a left-hander who broke a campaign pledge when he raised taxes; the current President Bush is strongly right-handed and has stayed true to his “no new taxes” pledge, according to Christman.

“The question that is most interesting to me isn’t whether Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John McCain is right- or left-handed, but how strong is their dominant hand?”

Christman’s research also showed that strong right-handers were more likely to be more extreme and authoritarianin their political positions.

“I would guess that Hitler, Mao and Stalin all had a very dominant hand,” he said.

Christman also said that while most dominant-handed people hold fast to their beliefs, those who do change their views are more likely to shift from one extreme to the other.

“Many far-right or far-left pundits in America today, such as David Horowitz, Arianna Huffington or Christopher Hitchens, started as very strident activists on the other end of the political spectrum,” Christman said. “Although they switched allegiance, the extremity of their allegiance never changed.”

Source: University of Toledo


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Degree of candidates’ handedness may predict leadership styles
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