Folding hands - why prefer a certain way?

John M Price PhD jmprice at
Sat Nov 3 14:50:38 EST 2001

In sci.psychology.theory article <mgWE7.96456$%B6.25785386 at> Glen M. Sizemore <gmsizemore at> wrote:
: Why do you think it is genetic?

>From his description, it seems to follow a Mendelian inheritance pattern.

 It may very well be. I'm not being
: contentious, I just wonder why you say that.

Why don't you accept the evidence he's presented?  If it was not genetic,
no pattern would have emerged.

: G.

: "Richard Norman" <rsnorman at> wrote in message
: news:c3n17ssip64vo19b9rkp97kmii0dupk0fj at
:> On Sat, 3 Nov 2001 16:16:50 +0100, "Urs Enke" <urs.enke at> wrote:
:> >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
:> >all.
:> >
:> >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. :-)
:> >
:> >Urs
:> >
:> I don't know the source, but we have long used "which thumb on top"
:> as an example of a simple Mendelian characters in introductory
:> biology.  I don't remember which way was dominant (I don't have my lab
:> manual at home with me).  I have no idea where to find a citation.
:> But it is used as frequently as other traits like "attached earlobe"
:> (ear attachment) , "widow's peak" (forehead hairline pattern) and
:> "hitchhiker's thumb" (degree of backward bending of thumb).

John M. Price, PhD                                     jmprice at
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