The Myth of Left and Right-Minded People

Posted by InnoCentive on Jul 5, 2018 10:48:00 AM


The myth of left and right-minded people has survived for years. It is often repeated in schools, on the Internet, and even among friends and family. Some people are proud to repeat it, making it appear as if they are privy to exclusive information reserved only for the most advanced circles of psychologists and neuroscientists.

The myth — which states that people who use the left side of their brain more are analytical while people who use the right side of their brain more are creative — has become a powerful metaphor, one used to describe and differentiate between those who prefer logic from those who have a certain proclivity for creative thinking. But it is nothing more than a myth, and one that refuses to die.

Disproven by Science

Any “left-minded” person could tell you that the science does not back up the assertion that each person tends to use one side of their brain more than the other. This fails from both a biological standpoint and in terms of psychology. All people use both sides of the brain, from  the front to back and across both sides (the old “people only use 10% of their brains” is a myth, as well). Each side of the brain controls a whole host of functions all the way down to pivotal motor functions — the left side of the brain controls movement in the right side of the body and vice-versa for the right side of the brain.

The Origin of the Myth

This myth came about from a dated research conducted by Nobel Prize winner, Roger Sperry. The research was called “The Split Brain Experiments,” and demonstrated that the left and right side of the brain control different tasks. Although each side controls a certain task, both of them continuously work in conjunction. One example Sperry used was speech. While the left side of the brain helps with language, the right side forms the emotional connection to the language. The left side will help you read a certain word (say, “chair”), but the right helps you imagine what it is in your mind.

Both Sides Are Important for Innovation

While there are no true right or left-minded people, both sides of the brain are important for innovators. Some studies have revealed that the right side of the brain seems to be more involved when a person has a spark of insight, dubbed and “Aha!” moment. Although these “Aha!” moments are an integral part of formulating new ideas, it would be impossible to convey them without the left side of the brain, which is renowned for it’s storytelling capabilities.

In other words, the right side of the brain creates the spark of an idea while the left side translates it into words.

Right or Left? It Doesn’t Matter

The myth may never completely fade, but it doesn’t matter why some people are more creative while others are more analytical. Both are required for innovating solutions. In fact, it’s this diversity of thought that makes crowdsourced solutions so beneficial to companies trying to innovate. By taking business challenges to large networks of people, businesses open up their innovation departments to a wealth of “left and right-minded” people located across the world.

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