Good news, bad news: David Cameron (pictured above), who is left-handed, is thought to indicate positive news with his dominant hand and negative with his right.
If you want to know when a politician is burying bad news, here is a handy hint.
A study of body language has found leaders tend to signal good news by pointing with their dominant hand – but gesture gloomy tidings with their weaker hand.
It means a right-handed politician, such as Nick Clegg, will wave his right hand when passing on positive news, while a left-hander – such as David Cameron – will gesture with his left.
They say the difference in the way left and right-handed leaders gesture could also explain the unlikely number of left-handers in office.
Five out of six of the most recent presidents of America have been southpaws, far exceeding chance, they said.
Dr Daniel Casasanto of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics said: ‘Since the dawn of the television era, we have had many, many more left-handers in presidential office than we should expect according to their prevalence in the population.
‘It is very interesting that Mr Cameron should have won in the first televised debates in British history.’
Dr Casasanto analysed the final debates of the U.S. presidential elections in 2004, which involved two right-handers John Kerry, and George W Bush, and in 2008 with two left-handers Barack Obama and John McCain.
The left-handed candidates used left hand gestures when making positive statements – and right hand gestures when being negative. The opposite pattern was found in right-handed candidates, he reports in the journal PLoS One. He believes voters subconsciously note which hand their leaders are using.
He said: ‘Right-handers automatically think “good stuff” is on the right, and “lefties” think “good stuff” is on the left, And vice versa. When we see someone on television that is a mirror image.
‘A “rightie” gesturing with his right hand appears on our bad side of TV. While a left-hander appears to be putting things in a much more positive light for the 90% of viewers who are right-handed.’