Thursday, 31 January 2013
Photos, your Good Side
So, spent time in the past going through your photos, wondering which one to put on your social media profile, which one to put on your CV or which wedding portrait to hang on the wall? Choosing is not easy, but here is something that may help.
Your best photo or portrait may be the one showing your left cheek, according to a study by Kelsey Blackburn and James Schirillo from Wake Forest University in the US. Their work shows that images of the left side of the face are perceived and rated as more pleasant than pictures of the right side of the face, possibly due to the fact that we present a greater intensity of emotion on the left side of our face.
We are always judging human emotions using facial expressions. Our highly specialised facial muscles are capable of expressing many unique emotions. A quick glance can tell if someone is happy or sad. Good actors have a range of facial expressions for almost every emotion.
Research suggests that the left side of the face is more intense and active during emotional expression. It is also striking that Western artists' portraits predominantly present subjects' left profile. The Blackburn and Schirillo study investigated whether there are differences in the perception of the left and right sides of the face in real-life photographs of individuals. They go on to 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."
Participants were asked to rate the pleasantness of both sides of male and female faces on gray-scale photographs. 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.
So if you are picking a photo for your on-line profile, or using a picture of a staff member in a poster, or using models to advertise clothes or a beauty product, keep to the left sided photos. It is your good side.