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

Scott Hardie*, Peter Hancock, Paul Rodway, Ian Penton-Voak, Derek Carson, Lynn Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


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 Andrews 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 that found by 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 also suggest that finding such an asymmetry may depend on some as yet unidentified factors inherent in some methods of image collection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-304
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The enigma of facial asymmetry: Is there a gender-specific pattern of facedness?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this