Are You Right-Brained or Left-Brained?


While scrolling through Facebook or other social media websites, you might see an invitation to take a quiz to find out if you are “right or left-brained”. This quiz creates the idea that people tend to have a more “dominate” side to their brain. That somehow because of a domination of a hemisphere that you in turn have specific personality traits. Creating what, I believe to be, a cultural phenomenon. As the Buzzfeed’s video above suggests, those that are “left-brained” are considered more “logical, verbal, [and] structured…” while those who are “right-brained” are considered more “visual, artistic, [and] intuitive…”. Now, this can create the stigma that because someone excels in math is because they are “left-brained”.

I was too a believer in this idea. I was positive that somehow I was more a right-brained than a left-brained because of my artistic tendencies and aversion towards anything mathematical. As I now look upon this topic as a psychology major I am reminded of this article. In this article, Steven Novella discusses that the brain is certainly divided, being that the left and right hemispheres are connected via white matter such as the corpus callosum, and that they in turn have lateralized brain functions. It has been scientifically proven that the right hemisphere deals mainly with spatial activities such as drawing and recognizing faces and the left brain deals with more with analytic such as language and communication. Though using this to believe one is used more depending on the person is a huge overgeneralization of the brain and its processes.

While this idea may seem credible from reading over some of the brain’s functions, in reality it is far from the truth. It is true that the right and left brain have different modalities, but current research such as this article indicates that there is no favorability of one side of the brain than to the other.  The brain is much more complex that this theory would give it credit. The majority of the brain’s parts, such as the frontal lobe and the temporal lobe, are bilateral in which that they are present in both the left and right hemisphere. This requires the brain to work together. This does not mean that every single lobe in the brain is activated all of the time, but from remembering something to walking, this requires both of the brain’s hemispheres to process and execute that information or activity in an efficient manner.

Personally, I think that reinforcing the belief that people are either left and right brained is harmful to those who wish to further their education about the brain. While the point of the Buzzfeed quiz in its essence is not to find out which hemisphere of your brain is dominate, but it is rather to find out what your qualities and strengths are.

In conclusion, finding out what hemisphere is more “dominant” and the personality attributes that are a result is distancing oneself from the truth. I will admit that the article that debunks this myth is still fairly new, with it being released in 2013, and therefore there is still a good chunk of the population that are unaware of the truth. This may be true, but I still think it is worth to clear up this misconception whenever possible.

1 thought on “Are You Right-Brained or Left-Brained?

  1. fremont

    This has always been such a fascinating topic for me to think about! I, too, was a great proponent of this theory, and I used it as an explanation for my complete aversion to mathematics and other areas of thinking with any relation to it. Now that I know that the myth is untrue, it raises more questions in me than answers. Why, then, do some people do better in mathematics and some in languages? Why are some people more analytic and others more abstract in their thinking? Why, if our brain indeed does not favor one side or the other, do some people (like me) struggle so horrendously in math and find the arts easier and more enjoyable, and vice-versa? I’m interested to see what I can learn in relation to this! Thanks for the interesting post!! 🙂


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