Are you ready for your next photo shoot? If so, be sure to position so that your left cheek is close to the camera.
These suggestions come from a new Wake Forest University study that suggests images of the left side of the face are perceived and rated as more pleasant than pictures of the right side of the face.
Investigators believe the findings may be due to the fact that we present a greater intensity of emotion on the left side of our face.
Kelsey Blackburn and James Schirillo have published their findings online in Springer’s journal Experimental Brain Research.
Human emotions are often judged from facial expressions. Prior research suggests that the left side of the face is more intense and active during emotional expression. It is also noteworthy that Western artists’ portraits predominantly present subjects’ left profile.
Blackburn and Schirillo investigated whether there are differences in the perception of the left and right sides of the face in real-life photographs of individuals.
The authors explain: “Our results suggest that posers’ left cheeks tend to exhibit a greater intensity of emotion, which observers find more aesthetically pleasing.
“Our findings provide support for a number of concepts — the notions of lateralized emotion and right hemispheric dominance with the right side of the brain controlling the left side of the face during emotional expression.”
In the study, participants were asked to rate the pleasantness of both sides of male and female faces on gray-scale photographs. The researchers presented both original photographs and mirror-reversed images, so that an original right-cheek image appeared to be a left-cheek image and vice versa.
Blackburn and Schirillo found a strong preference for left-sided portraits, regardless of whether the pictures were originally taken of the left side, or mirror-reversed. The left side of the face was rated as more aesthetically pleasing for both male and female posers.
Objective review of facial variation discovered that the left-side of the face displayed different measurements of pupil size — often considered a reliable unconscious measurement of interest.
The findings confirm that pupils dilate in response to more interesting stimuli — in the study, to more pleasant-looking faces — and constrict when looking at unpleasant images. In the experiment, pupil size increased with pleasantness ratings.