Folding hands - why prefer a certain way?

Urs Enke urs.enke at
Sat Nov 3 10:16:50 EST 2001

When they don't know where to put their hands, people may fold their hands.
Many do it when praying. Maybe someone can tell me why the latter is done at

But my primary question is another one: People usually prefer a certain way
of folding their hands, out of the two possible positions. When intertwining
one's fingers, the decision has to be made whether to put the right or the
left thumb on top. (With the position of the other fingers directly
resulting from this choice, assuming one wants the fingers of the two hands
to "take turns".) Apparently (as I gathered from asking others), each person
has a definite (usually subconscious, automatic) preference for one of the
possibilities, and experiences a certain awkwardness when forcing "the other
order of fingers".

Does anyone have a reasoned guess whether this preference is genetically
determined (possibly caused by anatomic differences between the two hands)
or maybe depends on the way one folded one's hands early in life and thus
got used to it?

As far as my "private statistics" tell, there is no correlation to
handedness or gender. Rather clearly, though, the majority prefers the right
thumb on top. I do so myself. :-)


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