Everybody has had pictures taken that they can hardly stand to look at. Even professional portraits that eliminate blemishes and show you in attractive poses sometimes look strained, or emotionless. Well, a recent study published in Experimental Brain Research seems to say that the remedy could be as easy as turning the other cheek.
It turns out Marily Monroe’s beauty mark didn’t pick the left side of her face by accident. According to the study, we human types tend to show “greater intensity of emotion” on the left side of our face. The study suggests that this has something to do with “right hemispheric dominance” of emotion. The right side of your brain controls the left side of your body; therefore, you emote with your right brain, and it shows on the left side of your face.
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. They 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.
Of course, more emotion may not translate into a more appealing picture, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.
P.S. Interestingly enough, it seems that painters throughout history have understood this concept — most portraits show the subject’s left side.