A gene-culture model of human handedness

Kevin N. Laland*, Jochen Kumm, John D. Van Horn, Marcus W. Feldman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


A model of handedness incorporating both genetic and cultural processes is proposed, based on an evolutionary analysis, and maximum-likelihood estimates of its parameters are generated. This model has the characteristics that (i) no genetic variation underlies variation in handedness, and (ii) variation in handedness among humans is the results of a combination of cultural and developmental factors, but (iii) a genetic influence remains since handedness is a facultative trait. The model fits the data from 17 studies of handedness in families and 14 studies of handedness in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. This model has the additional advantages that it can explain why monozygotic and dizygotic twins and siblings have similar concordance rates, and no hypothetical selection regimes are required to explain the persistence of left handedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-445
Number of pages13
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1995


  • asymmetry
  • cultural transmission
  • evolution
  • genetic
  • Handedness
  • mathematical model


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