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Your Left Cheek Is Prettier

Update Date: Apr 21, 2012 12:22 AM EDT
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Our left cheek is perceived to be more aesthetically pleasing by others, according to a new study.

Researchers Kelsey Blackburn and James Schirillo from Wake Forest University, whose study 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, suggest that it is possibly due to the fact that we present a greater intensity of emotion on the left side of our face. 

"Our results suggest that posers[individuals]' 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," said authors.

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.

The subjects showed 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.

These aesthetic preferences were also confirmed by measurements of pupil size. Indeed, pupils dilate in response to more interesting stimuli - here more pleasant-looking faces, and constrict when looking at unpleasant images. In the experiment, pupil size increased with pleasantness ratings.

The findings of the study appear online in Springer's journal Experimental Brain Research. 

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