Seeing Is Definitely Believing

Seeing is definitely believing when it comes to our social network or personal website pages. We pick the most promising snapshot from our portfolio and there it is for our world image. OK it may not have been taken this week, or even this year, but it’s how we should look.

Academics are an interesting subset of the species, dedicated as they are to study, seeking after truth and eschewing the razz-ma-tazz of the commercial world, so I was drawn to the survey of the profile pictures of over 5,800 academics by the large team of Churches et al from the U of South Australia and Flinders U that popped up in last weeks Public Library of Science (1,2).

Being from the psychology schools, the authors weren’t setting up a beauty contest, but were checking which they decided was their best face to put forward – their left side or their right side. With no agents to advise, they had to fall back on their own base instincts. Gender bias will come into it, how could it not? But the big surprise is the two-culture split a la C.P.Snow.

That’s right! Arts guys are lefties and science guys are righties. In English, and the Performing Arts the women favored the left cheek forward. In chemistry, Math, and Engineering, the photographer had definitely to be on their right side.

With men, the arts were not so clear-cut. Performing arts guys plumped right. Interestingly, in Fine Arts those of either gender persuasion went right. Perhaps the activities in the fine arts these days are more technical with installations etc.

The one that fascinated me was the psychologist group. The females were very definitely in the arts camp with a strong preference for the left side. Perhaps teasing out a patients inner feelings and dosing them with empathy is an art form.

In contrast male psychologists tend right and this leaves me to wonder if they really want to be measuring people’s responses quantitatively, and viewing patients more as lab rats for experiments, than mending them.


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