Different signals of personality and health from the two sides of the face

Perception. 2011;40(5):549-62. doi: 10.1068/p6856.


Previous studies demonstrate that people with different personality traits have different-looking faces. We investigated whether personality and health information are differently signalled by the two hemifaces. Using composite images created from women with high and low scores on health and personality dimensions, we investigated discrimination accuracy with original and mirrored hemifaces. By comparing discrimination accuracy for particular types of hemiface, we address issues regarding both the location of information signals and how these signals are conveyed. From the hemiface stimuli, participants could accurately identify three of the Big Five traits, along with health. We found differences in which hemiface could be more accurately identified, depending on the expressed trait. Emotional stability and health were more accurately discriminated from the right hemiface, while extraversion showed higher accuracy from the left hemiface. We found evidence for differences between hemifaces related to both directional asymmetries and to other information content. Finally, our results also address ongoing debate about which side of the face is more attractive, as we found attractiveness differences between hemifaces depended upon the personality trait most clearly expressed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention
  • Beauty
  • Character*
  • Cues
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Dominance, Cerebral*
  • Emotions*
  • Face*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Young Adult