If Bob Marley's alleged left-handedness and Musical Youth's preference to pass the dutchie to the left are any indication, researchers at the University of Toledo may be on to something.
A new study out of the Ohio school reveals that people with a strong preference for using their right hand -- to write, throw a ball, brush your teeth and so on -- are less keen on "unpopular" genres of music, especially bluegrass and reggae. (Jazz and world were also labeled as "unpopular" in the study, based on record industry sales.)
According to the research, published in the journal Psychology of Music, it's because righties have a harder time updating their beliefs (or in this case, their musical preferences) and tend to stick with things they know. "Right-handedness is associated with decreased cognitive flexibility and decreased tendencies to update beliefs, arising from decreased interhemispheric interaction," the study says.
What that means, more simply, is that right-handers may not be as in touch with the processes controlled by the right side of the brain, things like updating thoughts and beliefs and seeing things in new ways. The left hemisphere, alternatively, tends to stick with what's tried and true.
Mix-handers are more in touch with the right side of their brain and therefore more open to different types of music, study author Stephen Christman told msnbc.com, noting that being mix-handedness is not the same as being ambidextrous, but simply using a non-dominant hand for at least two activities.
So what do right-handers like? The top three choices among the college students surveyed were R&B, modern pop and alternative rock.