The enigma of facial asymmetry: Is there a gender specific pattern of facedness?



Hardie S, Hancock PJB, Rodway P, Penton-Voak IS, Carson D & Wright L (2005) The enigma of facial asymmetry: Is there a gender specific pattern of facedness?. Laterality, 10 (4), pp. 295-304.

Although facial symmetry correlates with facial attractiveness, human faces are often far from symmetrical with one side frequently being larger than the other (Kowner, 1998). Smith (2000) reported that male and female faces were asymmetrical in opposite directions, with males having a larger area on the left side compared to the right side, and females having a larger right side compared to the left side. The present study attempted to replicate and extend this finding. Two databases of facial images from Stirling and St Andrews Universities, consisting of 180 and 122 faces respectively, and a third set of 62 faces collected at Abertay University, were used to examine Smith’s findings. Smith’s unique method of calculating the size of each hemiface was applied to each set. For the Stirling and St Andrew’s sets a computer program did this automatically and for the Abertay set it was done manually. No significant overall effect of gender on facial area asymmetry was found. However, the St. Andrews sample demonstrated a similar effect to Smith, with females having a significantly larger mean area of right hemiface and males having a larger left hemiface. In addition, for the Abertay faces handedness had a significant effect on facial asymmetry with right handers having a larger left side of the face. These findings give limited support for Smith’s results but do also suggest that finding such an asymmetry may depend upon some as yet unidentified factors inherent in some methods of image collection.

laterality; facial asymmetry; hemiface; gender; handedness; Facial asymmetry Psychology; Sex differences

Laterality: Volume 10, Issue 4

Publication date31/07/2005
Publication date online21/09/2010
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Psychology Press)

People (1)


Professor Peter Hancock

Professor Peter Hancock

Professor, Psychology