The silent social/emotional signals in left and right cheek poses: A literature review Academic Article uri icon


  • When posing for a painted or photographic portrait, people are more likely to offer their left, rather than right, cheek (e.g., the Mona Lisa). Why? This paper reviews research investigating the left cheek bias, and the reasons underlying this posing asymmetry. Ruling out mechanical and perceptual biases, the paper focuses on the silent emotional and social signals conveyed by left and right cheek poses, demonstrating that people intuitively offer the left cheek to express emotion and perceive left cheek poses as more emotional. Moreover, because the left cheek appears more emotionally expressive, we unconsciously use cheek shown as a cue when presenting or determining academic specialisation, scientific standing, and even political affiliation. The research is consistent in suggesting that something as subtle as a 15° head turn implicitly influences others' perceptions: if you want to be perceived as open and creative, rather than dry and scientific, it might be time to turn the other cheek.

publication date

  • September 2013