Any selfie-obsessed friend could tell you that understanding your most attractive face angles is key to snapping the perfect portrait. Science takes things a step further, and says that once specific angle is seen as more handsome than the others.
A study found that people’s left cheeks are typically perceived as better looking than their right cheeks. Participants were shown a series of male and female faces with both left-sided and right-sided views. Their pupils consistently dilated more when they observed the left , a sign that they were more attracted to the left-side view of that person’s face.
The study’s authors believe the phenomenon could be explained by the way emotions are processed in the brain. Broadly speaking, the right side of the brain is more involved with emotional expression, and the right side of the brain controls the muscles on the left side of the body. That means your left cheek tends to exhibit a greater intensity of emotion, which observers find more aesthetically pleasing.
“Our findings provide support for a number of concepts,” write the study’s authors, “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.”
Interestingly, this could also explain why artists show a strong preference for capturing their subjects from the left side. According to the study, an “examination of 1,474 Western European portraits found that the majority of posers (~64 %) exposed their left cheeks while only ~33 % exposed their right cheeks. More importantly, this leftward bias occurred more often in portraits of women than in portraits of men.”
So next time someone says “Say cheese!” or your barber asks which way to part your hair, put your best face – your left face – forward.