‘Training’ yourself to use the ‘wrong’ hand can help you improve your self-control and behave less aggressively, say researcher.
Dr Thomas Denson, of the University of New South Wales, suggests right-handers should get into the habit of using a computer mouse, stirring a cup of coffee or opening a door with their left hand - and left-handers should do the opposite.
Dr Denson said practising self-control is no different from getting better at golf or playing the piano.
In studies he showed people who try to use their non-dominant hand for two weeks keep a lid on their aggression better.
So if they are right handed, they are told to use their left hand ‘for pretty much anything that is safe to do,’ he said.
Dr Denson said it is only self-control that keeps us from punching queue jumpers or murdering conniving colleagues.
“Using the mouse, stirring your coffee, opening doors. This requires people to practice self control because their habitual tendency is to use their dominant hands,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
In one experiment, participants were mildly insulted by another student and were given the option of retaliating with a blast of white noise, a combination of all the different frequencies of sound also known as static.
Those who had practiced self-control responded less aggressively.
Dr Denson and colleagues said criminologists and sociologists have long believed people commit violent crimes when an opportunity arises and they are low on self-control.
“It is an impulsive kind of thing,” he said.
For the last ten years or so psychologists have joined this research, using new ways of manipulating self-control in experiments, and found self control and aggression really are tightly linked.
Studies have also found that, after people have had to control themselves for a while, they behave more aggressively.
“I think, for me, the most interesting findings that have come out of this is that if you give aggressive people the opportunity to improve their self control, they are less aggressive,” Dr Denson said.
Denson’s findings have been published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.