• The enigma of facial asymmetry: is there a gender-specific pattern of facedness?

      Rodway, Paul; Hancock, P.; Hardie, S.; Penton-Voak, I.; Wright, L.; Carson, D. (2005)
      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.
    • The valence-specific laterality effect in free viewing conditions: the influence of sex, handedness, and response bias.

      Rodway, Paul; Hardie, S.; Wright, L. (2003)
      The right hemisphere has often been viewed as having a dominant role in the processing of emotional information. Other evidence indicates that both hemispheres process emotional information but their involvement is valence specific, with the right hemisphere dealing with negative emotions and the left hemisphere preferentially processing positive emotions. This has been found under both restricted (Reuter-Lorenz & Davidson, 1981) and free viewing conditions (Jansari, Tranel, & Adolphs, 2000). It remains unclear whether the valence-specific laterality effect is also sex specific or is influenced by the handedness of participants. To explore this issue we repeated Jansari et al.'s free-viewing laterality task with 78 participants. We found a valence-specific laterality effect in women but not men, with women discriminating negative emotional expressions more accurately when the face was presented on the left-hand side and discriminating positive emotions more accurately when those faces were presented on the right-hand side. These results indicate that under free viewing conditions women are more lateralised for the processing of facial emotion than are men. Handedness did not affect the lateralised processing of facial emotion. Finally, participants demonstrated a response bias on control trials, where facial emotion did not differ between the faces. Participants selected the left-hand side more frequently when they believed the expression was negative and the right-hand side more frequently when they believed the expression was positive. This response bias can cause a spurious valence-specific laterality effect which might have contributed to the conflicting findings within the literature.