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Left Gaze Bias: Why Mirrors Lie

Numerous researches have shown that humans flicker their eyes to the left of a person facing them. This happens to you as well when you use a mirror. And this has implications on your everyday life you should consider.

Researchers have shown that humans flicker their eyes towards the left when looking at a person opposite of them. They do this to read the emotions on the right side of the face. The right side of the face shows more emotions than the left, as it is steered by the more emotional left side of the brain. This reaction is called the left gaze bias.

This reaction happens to you when you look at a real face, a mirror, or a photograph. While it makes sense when looking at a real face, it’s a nuisance with the mirror. As your eyes flicker to the left, they look at your own left side of the face. This makes you look at yourself unlike anybody else and fuels many minor points of contention.

Spent hours in front of the mirror doing your make-up, your hair? What do you get when you ask for confirmation of success? A non-committal grunt or outright evasive actions were not the things you were looking for. But what went wrong? Due to the left gaze bias you concentrated your efforts on your left half of the face, while the persons meeting you will look at your right side. To see yourself as others do, you would need a double mirror construction.

The use (or may I say the frequent use?) of the mirror leads to another minor irritation. When you see photographs of yourself, you tend not to like them, or at least you tend not to like those that everybody else likes. The photographs you choose of yourself as the best are those that get nearest to your mirror image, while the others choose the ones that are ‘the right way round’.

What usually might be a minor irritation to you might become a real problem when choosing a photograph for your next job application. Let someone near to you choose that photograph, as the persons inviting you for an interview will have that photograph before them. It is to your advantage if the person on the photograph is as near as possible to the person they see, not the person you would like to appear.

A further implication of the mirror problem lies in social networking sites. Those that went on a date with a person from such a date might have wondered why the person they met was so different from the person they saw on the photographs. Very often you see people putting in photographs they took themselves in the mirror, which means you meet the mirror image of what you saw on the site. As for the rest of the photographs, who ever went to their best friend and asked for them to choose the best photographs for the site?

In short, whenever you need to present yourself at your best advantage, ask someone else. They see you the way others do, and the others are in the majority.

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User Comments
  1. Trakiya

    On January 30, 2010 at 11:01 am


    Good article.

  2. Wiggles18

    On January 30, 2010 at 7:04 pm


    Tis is why I use to mirrors, and look at the reflection of the reflection, haha, jk, but some people might do that.

  3. Victor Arnet

    On January 30, 2010 at 8:37 pm


    this is very interesting. i think ill test this out the next i get.

  4. SharifaMcFarlane

    On January 30, 2010 at 11:08 pm


    Ah, that explains it. I always wondered why pictures I took always seemed more attractive to me.

  5. BeatsMe

    On January 31, 2010 at 3:06 am


    Wow. Nice info. Thanks. I just noticed that oftentimes, my mirror image is quite different from the photos I took.

  6. jennifer eiffel01

    On January 31, 2010 at 6:28 am


    I think this is a very good article. Well written and interesting, too!

  7. giftarist

    On January 31, 2010 at 9:09 am


    Very interesting and well composed. Thanks!

  8. diff.thinkr

    On January 31, 2010 at 10:12 am


    GOOD…

  9. Th3 El33t

    On January 31, 2010 at 11:23 am


    Wow this is v. interesting, i’ll look out for this when talking to someone next time!

  10. ML Sheldon

    On January 31, 2010 at 12:35 pm


    This is really interesting. I have to admit that I don’t see the big difference, and I’m thinking that the “problem” is a little overstated here, but it’s a good article nonetheless. Very fascinating.

  11. kirstymarie

    On January 31, 2010 at 3:50 pm


    wow, that does explain a lot! i shall remember this next time I look in the mirror… and try to make my eyes stay on the right side! interesting stuff- great article :]

  12. pinkspoonbill

    On January 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm


    I didn’t know we looked to the left. Makes sense.

  13. parsonsnm07

    On January 31, 2010 at 6:28 pm


    this is a great article and something i have deffinetly noticed before, and understand very well, thanks for clearing some things up for me and the advice, im sure it will come i hand :) x

  14. CRYSTAL EVANS

    On January 31, 2010 at 9:21 pm


    great artice.. i have always wondered why i look different in photographs than how i look in the mirror..lol
    thanks

  15. Karen Gross

    On January 31, 2010 at 10:03 pm


    Very interesting. I had never heard of this before. I wonder about people who have had strokes – would they be treated with more respect if they have damage to the nerves on the right side of the face than if the left side was affected?

    And what about Snow White’s stepmother, asking her mirror to tell her if she was still the fairest of them all? Now there is mirror bias for you.

  16. Linvio

    On February 1, 2010 at 12:17 am


    Hmmm.. got to think about this over and over… I find this a new and a unique perspective… Bottom line, I like it…

  17. Ruby Hawk

    On February 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm


    I learned something new. I did not know that. It’s interesting information and to our advantage to remember when we want to make a good impression via photograph.

  18. A Lady Poet

    On February 2, 2010 at 12:42 am


    A well writen well researched article that has one thing.I dont look into a mirror to often, but will keep what was read in mind when I have to at work.

  19. PoNcHo

    On February 2, 2010 at 7:17 am


    very interesting

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