The words "dominant" and "non-dominant" refer to the prominence of one side of the body. The hand that is used in writing and the foot that takes the upward step when going up a flight of stairs, is referred to as the dominant hand or foot, respectively. The hand or foot that does not write or take the lead step is referred to as non-dominant. Other differences are more subtle, and may not be immediately noticed.


A dominant hand, foot, eye or ear is used more frequently and in different ways than a non-dominant one. A dominant hand is generally used to write, eat and throw, whereas a non-dominant hand is only used to support the dominant hand. A dominant eye is the one that the person uses when looking into a telescope or microscope. A dominant ear is generally used when a person strains to hear something. A dominant foot is used to kick a ball or lead up onto a step. In each case, the side with the non-dominant status plays the supporting role.


A person's dominant side tends to react somewhat differently to any stimulus than their non-dominant side. Reaction time is generally quicker when a person's dominant leg or arm is hit with a reaction-inducing instrument (e.g., a hammer to the knee). All the same reactions are observed in the non-dominant side, but are generally slower.

Decision Making

Many of a person's decisions in life are influenced by their dominant side. If a person is right side dominant, they tend to prefer objects that are placed to their right, whereas if a person is left side dominant, they tend to prefer objects that are placed to their left. Similarly, right-handed people tend to use their right hand when talking about positive things whereas left-handed people tend to use their left hand when talking about positive things. Left-handed people generally play their own specific types of stringed instruments like guitars.


Most people are stronger on their dominant side than on their non-dominant side. This is due to the simple fact that since people use their dominant arm and leg more often than their non-dominant arm and leg, the former gets more exercise. If a person shows more strength in one side of their body than the other, there is a good chance the former is the dominant side.