Right-wing politicians prefer the emotional left

Nicole Thomas, Tobias Loetscher, Danielle Clode, Michael Nicholls

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Physiological research suggests that social attitudes, such as political beliefs, may be partly hard-wired in the brain. Conservatives have heightened sensitivity for detecting emotional faces and use emotion more effectively when campaigning. As the left face displays emotion more prominently, we examined 1538 official photographs of conservative and liberal politicians from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States for an asymmetry in posing. Across nations, conservatives were more likely than liberals to display the left cheek. In contrast, liberals were more likely to face forward than were conservatives. Emotion is important in political campaigning and as portraits influence voting decisions, conservative politicians may intuitively display the left face to convey emotion to voters.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere36552
    Pages (from-to)e36552
    Number of pages4
    JournalPLoS One
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2012


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