If you want to put your best face forward in photos, make it your left. According to a recent study in Experimental Brain Research by researchers at Wake Forest University, the left side of a person’s face is perceived to be the most attractive; regardless of gender.
The scientists in the study believe this is because the left side of the face is more expressive than the right side, which makes it more attractive to others. In the study, scientists showed participants black-and-white photos of people’s profiles; the photos were both the original photo and the mirror image. For both men and women and regardless of whether the photo was original or a mirror image, participants largely chose the left facing side as the more attractive. Researchers also guaged participant’s pupil size as pupils dilate when we’re looking at pleasant images, and constrict when viewing unpleasant images.
Darwin was the first to note asymmetry in facial features when in 1872 he reported on the uncovering of a canine tooth when a person sneered. Facial asymmetry is the “expression intensity of muscular movement on one side of the face (hemiface) relative to the other side of the face,” and, these movements are indicative of the cerebral emotional expressions. For instance, the left hemisphere of the brain is specialized for positive emotions and affects the right side of the face. The right hemisphere of the brain is specialized for negative emotions and affects the left side of the face. Try it. Snarl and see which side of your mouth and nose raise involuntarily. Mine was on the left. Now, try winking and giving a half smile. Which side of your face is most comfortable producing the combination?
Even an examination of 1,474 Western European portraits found that more than 64% of the posers were left facing. The number for left-facing women was higher than men. Researchers believe this is due to men unwilling to reveal their emotional side. Thus, women display their emotive sides, while men have historically displayed their dominant side.
I have to say, I looked at the pictures in the study quickly, without lingering, and my immediate preference was for the left side. I have no idea what my pupils were doing as I didn’t videotape my image viewing session. But, honestly, I was surprised by how quickly I chose the left-side facing on every picture.
So, next time you find yourself staring down the lens of a camera, just smile and look a little to right; left cheek forward. You’re gorgeous!