Which cheek did Jesus turn?

Academic Article


  • In portraiture, subjects are mostly depicted with a greater portion of the left side of their face (left hemiface) facing the viewer. This bias may be induced by the right hemisphere's dominance for emotional expression and agency. Since negative emotions are particularly portrayed by the left hemiface, and since asymmetrical hemispheric activation may induce alterations of spatial attention and action-intention, we posited that paintings of the painful and cruel crucifixion of Jesus would be more likely to show his left hemiface than observed in portraits of other people. By analyzing depictions of Jesus's crucifixion from book and art gallery sources, we determined a significantly greater percent of these crucifixion pictures showed the left hemiface of Jesus facing the viewer than found in other portraits. In addition to the facial expression and hemispatial attention-intention hypotheses, there are other biblical explanations that may account for this strong bias, and these alternatives will have to be explored in future research. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

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

  • 210
  • End Page

  • 218
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 3