Which Cheek did the Resurrected Jesus Turn?

Academic Article


  • © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Secular portraits are likely to show more of the left than right side of the face (hemiface). Prior research has shown that emotions are more strongly expressed by the left hemiface. In addition, the valence theory of emotion proposes that the right hemisphere is dominant for mediating negative emotions, and the left hemisphere for positive emotions. Since religious art depicting a scene such as the Resurrection of Jesus is more likely to be associated with positive emotions, we postulated that there would be a significant smaller percentage number of artistic works of the Resurrection that reveal the left side of the face of Jesus than in those art works portraying the Crucifixion. Thus, we analyzed artistic portrayals of the Resurrection of Jesus and compared them to the artistic scenes of the Crucifixion. This analysis revealed that the left side of the face of Jesus is less commonly depicted in portraits of the Resurrection than the Crucifixion. In addition, both the right hemiface, and forward-facing faces were also more commonly portrayed in painting of the Resurrection than the Crucifixion. Whereas this right–left hemiface, Resurrection–Crucifixion dichotomy may be related to right–left hemispheric difference in the mediation of emotional valence other factors such as agency, action–intention, and biblical text may have influenced these differences.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Acosta LMY; Williamson JB; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 1091
  • End Page

  • 1098
  • Volume

  • 54
  • Issue

  • 3