Left Side...Best Side?

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Taking a picture of a group of girls? Ever hear one (or more) say, "Wait! I need to switch sides!" or "This is my bad side!" Turns out, there is science behind the good side/bad side thought process! Well, as long as the girl is claiming that her left side is her "good" side...

According to a study done by scientists at Wake Forest University, humans prefer looking at the left side of the face. The study tests whether one side of the face is more visually pleasing than the other by pairing conscious ratings of pleasantness with the unconscious measure of pupil size.

Black-and-white photographs were taken simultaneously from both sides of 20 (men and women, ages 35-65) individuals' faces and presented to 37 observers for their judgment. These 37 observers (23 women and 14 men; ages 18-22) were undergraduates at Wake Forest University. Each picture was presented for 15 seconds, during which observers were instructed to record how "pleasing" they found the image, with a "1" meaning most displeasing, a "5" meaning neutral, and "9" meaning most pleasing. After viewing each picture, each observer's pupil size was measured. Here is just six of the people featured in the pictures in this study (these are the exact pictures that were shown):


The results of the study show many different things. The first phenomenon that the study shows is that pupil size is directly correlated with the observers ratings. As the rating of a picture went up, the dilation of the observer's pupil increased. This is illustrated in this graph:

The second phenomenon that is illustrated is that the left side of the face is perceived as the most pleasant (rather than the right side) in both men and women. The results suggest that posers' left sides tend to exhibit a greater intensity of emotion, which observers find more pleasing. The findings provide support for right hemispheric dominance: with the right side of the brain controlling the left side of the face during emotional expression. Therefore, since emotion is controlled by the right side of the brain, it is more strongly present on the left side of the face (As the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, and vice versa).

I think that this study's method is valid and well-controlled. However, I believe that the size of the experiment is too small, and needs to be replicated with more participants. The conclusions made in this study are based off of 37 people. I think replication would be crucial in order to make this conclusion more concrete.

right side.jpgleft side.jpg
(According to this study, Angelina Jolie's face should be considered more "pleasing" in the picture on the right, displaying the left side of her face)

So, the final question: Do you have a "side" that you prefer in pictures? Left or right?

1 Comment

I really liked your topic! I for one have never understood when seconds before a picture someone has to switch over to their "good side". I decided to look a little more into this, although this is not a legitimate study, a glamour reporter used showed a photo of her right and left side to people attending a party and the they all voted the right side as her prettier side. The article also notes that Mirah Carey is typically only photographed on her right side.
I guess it boils down to personal preference but it is something I never thought about!


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