The Eye of the Beholder


In 1976, Princeton psychologist Julian Jaynes attributed the voices of the gods to the right hemisphere in pre-literate civilizations, claiming that a residual dissociative effect could be found in poets, prophets, musicians, the hypnotized and schizophrenics of the modern age. In his book, he included drawings of faces with lop-sided smiles, mirror images of each other, that he had presented to 1,000 people in a test.

                                            A                              B


Jaynes wanted to test which hemisphere was judging the facial expression. Reading direction, apparently, is independent of reading a facial expression. In 1976, as today, research has shown that recognizing facial expressions is primarily a right-hemispheric function.* Jaynes found that 80% of right-handers chose B, while 55% of left-handers chose A, showing that more than half of the latter were using their left hemispheres to read the facial expression. He also thought that if you were completely left-lateralized, left-handed in every way, you would be even more likely to chose A.

I found this curious because I am left-handed in every way, plus left eye and foot dominant, yet I chose B without hesitation. It seems to me that Jaynes was not taking into account atypical lateralization. He may have been assuming that if you are left-handed your hemispheric functions would be switched so that your language was on the right and visuo-spatial functions, including recognition of faces and facial expressions, were on the left. In fact, we now know that there can be a number of different configurations for brain functions, including both language and visuo-spatial functions on the right. So, an extremely left-side lateralized person, like I am, could still chose B.

When I posted these images on Facebook, I had just read an article in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Scientific American Mind. The author, Richard Wiseman, was saying that we are ALL in some sense “Wired for Weird,” ready to believe in ghosts or see facial images where there are none, using our natural pattern recognition, agency-detection and facial recognition abilities. However, people with a highly active right hemisphere are more likely to claim they are clairvoyant, telepathic, have dream precognition or see faces in unlikely places. Beginning in the late 1990’s, Wiseman reported, neuropsychologist Peter Brugger has been finding that right-hemisphere dominant people, judged by a variety of means, are indeed more likely to believe in and/or have experienced paranormal events. Other researchers have also come to this same conclusion.

As it must be pretty clear by now, I’m very interested in the creative abilities and special skills of people who are right-hemisphere dominant for language. When I first presented this test to My Left-handed Facebook Friends** and general Facebook Friends, 16 people responded and many more since then. In the initial test, the responses split right down the middle. Eight people chose A and 8 people chose B. Six lefties chose A, as Jaynes had predicted, using their right hemisphere. The lefties and right-handers who chose B would have been judging the smile from the right. The right-handers who chose A were atypical, using their left hemisphere to judge the facial expression.

As the facial expression test isn't really testing for over-all dominance, I would like people who have taken it, and any others who would like to join in, to take it one step further. If you report your results in the comment section, please let me know as well if you are left- right- or mixed-handed. Here are 4 simple things to do:





  1. Cross your arms across your chest. Which hand is up?
  2. If you play a sport, do you use your left or right hand/foot?Walk up stairs. Which foot do you place up first?
  3. Make a triangle with your index fingers and thumbs together in front of your face. Look at an object in the distance closing each eye alternately. Which eye makes the object appear in the center of the triangle.
  4. When you write, is your hand position facing up or do you curl in your hand? For example,  President Obama sharply curls in his left hand; Clinton writes straight up. How about when you eat? Do you curl in your hand? Sometimes right-handers curl in their hands also, so they are probably right dominant for language. One of my sons, who benefits from my left-handed genes, curls in his right hand when he writes and eats.
Thanks to any and all who take part in my test! Please also let me know if you believe in or have ever experienced any paranormal events, like telepathy or precognition.




* [R]ecent research suggests that the right hemisphere may be best at processing patterns like voice contour, facial expression, aspects of size and quantity, gestalt aspects of the world which, from a developmental perspective, represent the way children begin to learn about cognitive areas like music, art, mathematics or language. This quote is from a great up-to-date article.
** Now a Facebook page called "Right Mind Matters" for all people with enhanced right dominance, whether left-, right-, or mixed handed.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Answers- face-A
Left hand up
Right foot up
Right eye centers
Up or not curved writing hand

I am right hand dominant. What do my answers reveal?
Deb Pfeffer

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Interesting, Deb. You're left dominant but must have something bilateral going on or you wouldn't put your left hand up. It only makes you more interesting!

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Plus you picked face A where one would expect B from a right-hander. I don't have all the answers on this. That's why I'm running the test.

nancy oarneire graham said...

I am mixed-handed (and thank you for the correct terminology!)

Cross your arms across your chest. Which hand is up?

Left.

Walk up stairs. Which foot do you place up first?

Left.

Make a triangle with your index fingers... Which open eye makes the object appear in the center of the triangle.

Right.

When you write, is your hand position facing up or do curl in your hand?

Facing up.

How about when you eat? Do you curl in your hand?

No.

nancy oarneire graham said...

I should say that I write with my left hand. I can write with my right hand legibly. I bat right handed and water ski right handed. I throw a ball with my left and catch with my right.

Joan Dempsey said...

I chose face B.
Crossed-arms - right hand up.
Stairs - right
Triangle - right
Hand up, not curled when both eating and writing.

Anonymous said...

I chose face B.
Crossed-arms - left hand up.
Stairs - left.
Triangle - right.
Hand not curled when eating or writing.

I am right-hand dominant.

Yvette Schneider

Anonymous said...

I chose face B

Crossed arms-left hand up, I think. Not sure about the "up" meaning, but right arm is on top with hand tucked under. Left arm slides under and left hand comes up.

Stairs--both. Depends on the stairs. Increased pace to try and up the unconscious element,but still alternates.

Triangle--right

Hand--no curl. With writing, right hand dom.

p.s. Your blog/research focus has a fascinating interdisciplinary focus. From the little I've read, you explore the mind/body relationship without the reductionist tone often found among analytic philosophers and neuro-cog. researchers.

Maurice said...

Hello again, Carol,

Mr. B. is by far the happier dude. (How can "A" be happy with a flattened head and distorted chin?)

Other simple things:

1. My left arm is above my right.

2. I tried several times (trying to not force an outcome) and the result was mixed but mostly left foot went upstairs first; but I'm afraid it depended on which foot was nearest the staircase as I approached. Going down stairs (what goes up...) was, interestingly, nearly always left foot first.

3. I didn't really understand how to do your eye-dominance thing, but I'm right-eye dominant.

4. I write lefty but don't curl my hand like Obama (or Ford). More like Clinton. I don't understand "facing up," though.

Perhaps these results will confirm that I am all mixed up. I write, draw, bat, golf, and eat (as Europeans do... knife in right hand) lefty. I throw and kick righty. I also write equally well and often on a blackboard with either hand/arm.

I've always viewed my mixture as being small-motor lefty, large-motor righty. Maybe that's not accurate, but I like it. So there.

Btw, I spent nearly an hour searching for my Origin of Consciousness which has moved with me since the '70s. I'd love to read it again. I remember how profound it was to me.

Maurice|eciruaM

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for such a complete answer (and for the backwards Maurice).

adax said...

Hello!
I'm a studing psychology in Poland. I've used Joynes's faces in my research. I've got datas from 80 people: double test for each: eye, hand, leg and ear and answers about chimeric faces. I've tried to find out, if there is a similar recognition with emoticons:
:-) Vs. (-:

If you are interested in results of Joynes's faces at my research, please let me know on e-mail: ada.kiestrzyn@gmail.com. I'll translate it and send to you with pleasure.

alexflowers said...

the eyes are different... this isnt an exact mirror image. something about the eye on the smile side of image A doesnt look happy like the smile side of image B

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Ada, How interesting that you did the test in Poland. I would love to see your results, if it's not to much trouble to translate them. I'll send you an email.

Alex, you're not the first to say that. Unfortunately, I must stick with Jaynes's drawings to be true to his results and any new ones we get. Try focusing on the nose, rather than either eyes or mouth. Just stay in the middle. Jaynes recommended this method anyway.

land said...

Hello Carole,

As Alex mentions above, I was immediately drawn to the left eye (face B) which struck me as far more open and happy than the right eye (in A). I chose B. Windows of the soul. . .

I'm right handed; left hand up with arms crossed; left foot forward on stairs; left eye centre.

I enjoy your blog,

Andrew

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Hi Andrew,

I looked at those faces again, not having done so for a while and I finally saw how different those eyes actually are. Again, I can't change Jaynes's drawings, but, interestingly, I must see the mouth first, rather than the eyes, which conditions my response. Still, in your case, it sounds like you have some atypical mixed dominance other than your typical right lateralization for facial expression.

Thanks for visiting and commenting!

Carole

Matt E said...

My answers are:

Face - B
Both Hands Down
Right Foot Up
Left Eye Open
Hand writes straight up
Am right handed

nina4667 said...

Face - B
Right hand up
Right foot forward
Right Eye Centered
Right hand up
I'm right-handed

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Left hemisphere dominant all the way! Just goes to show that we can't give the right hemisphere all the credit for the extended mind stuff from what I know of you; or else there are interconnections going on that can't be judged, like the size of your corpus callosum which connects the two sides of the brain.

Thanks for participating!

Anonymous said...

1. Arms crossed = right hand up
2. Left foot kicks and steps first. Right hand throws baseballs and shoots baskets. Left hand wears baseball glove and dribbles basketball. Batting, golfing, hockey (anything with a stick or club) is left handed.
3. Right eye centers.
4. Hand position is up, not curled.

I guess I'm mixed handed?

Now a question for you: I don't understand the facial expression test. You say people chose A or B, but what what was their choice based on? What question do you ask before you tell them to choose? I don't know what I'm looking for.

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

You definitely have mixed dominance. As for the facial expression test, you're gauging which face A or B is happier, i.e. smiling. Notice the smiling side of the face is mirrored. If you say B, you're looking left from your right hemisphere; if you say A, you're looking right from your left hemisphere. B would be the typical response for a right-hander; A would be a more typical response for a left-hander. But read again above for what those differences can mean. Thanks for taking the test! Where do you stand on the poet/paranormal spectrum?

Anonymous said...

Re poet/paranormal spectrum. I have a degree in English and I write for a living (not poetry, though). I often realize, when an event happens during the day, that I dreamt about a similar event the night before. It happens often enough and the details are similar enough that it makes me feel weird.

Re the faces. They don't look like mirror images to me. The non-arched eyebrows are different. In picture B, the non-arched brow is lower (closer to the lid), making the face look more concerned. In A, the non-arched brow is higher, making the face look happier. Strange thing is, when I think of "picture A" without looking at the faces (as when I type the letters here), I want to say it's on the right, not the left. If I were labeling the pictures, I would swap the letters A and B. This is probably why I got so messed up filling in answer bubbles on those multiple-choice tests!

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

You're not the only one who has said that and those who do are probably more mixed dominant than others. People have read some very specific emotions into those eyebrows. Try to focus on the nose without looking at the eyebrows, the mouth is key. Thanks for the dream precognition comment. I believe that's a function of increased right-dominance as well.

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

Hi Carole,

I took the test! I am right-hand dominant, and I chose the B face.

For the numbered questions:
1-left
2-right
3- right
4- I curl my hand, almost severely, when I write and eat.

Finally, as an "intuitive," I have had lots of precognitive experiences. They are usually quite random but I became conscious of them as a teenager.

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Hi Julia, as I suspected you are mixed dominant, but the key here is that you curl your right hand in when you write and eat which means your language function is in your right hemisphere and also explains your intuition and precognitive abilities. You are one of the few people who spoke up about the paranormal connection, which also made your experience with Plath's papers all the more understandable. You have a very interesting mind!

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

P.S. Julia, since you picked B your visuo-spatial function is in the RH with your language. Do you have trouble with map-reading, geometry, getting disoriented in the outside world?

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

Oh, yes! My joke is that I live in the spiritual world, not the temporal/material one!

deepali said...

I am currently devouring this blog! Wanted to chime in with my answers here. :)

A.
1. Left hand comes over right bicep.
2. Left foot (also snowboard "goofy footed")
3. Left-eye dominant, my eye doc tells me.
4. I write like Clinton, but turn the paper 45-90 degrees (so bottom of the page is towards my left arm).

Left-handed very dominant (I honestly cannot think of anything I use my right hand for first).

No known paranormal activity. Though I am very lucky. :)

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for your interest and input, deepali. You are a lefty all the way, as I am!

Syd said...

Left-hand dominant.

Image B

Left arm over right when crossed.

Sports-both left and right
hands/feet

Stairs-Right

Triangle-right eye

Hand facing up when writing/eating, though I do angle the paper on which I'm writing.

No paranormal experiences that I can't rationally explain with a little thought.

I wanted to add that, in a high school aptitude test I came across recently, I scored in the 99th percentile in a category named "Reading Problem Solving," which I believe would be a left-brain function? Also, the math aptitude scores were painfully average...

Am I a mix of both hemis, but more right than left? So many variables...

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

Syd, I just saw this comment. You are mixed but seem to lean towards right-hemisphere dominance to me, except that excellence in reading problem solving (if it was a linguistically presented problem that you had to solve mathematically). I think men often develop the right side in sports just because that's the main-stream way of doing it and it works better with the equipment. Of course, the left-handed odd-ball can through things off for the opposition too.

Sunny Snaith said...

Although this is a stale post, I thought I'd add my 2 cents ...

Like many of the others, I noted that the images are not identical. I think the test would be more accurate if Jaynes had truly mirrored the images.

The happy side of B has a more open expression whereas the happy side of A has a slight curve/flare at the end of the crease, looking furrowed / worried to me. So, I pick B as happier.

I write with my right hand but Mom says I had to choose because they were about even.

I wonder if reading direction affects the results? Jewish / Arabic / Persian.

1. Left arm up when crossed.
2. Kick with right but stairs with left.
3. Right eye centered but it is my stronger eye.
4a. Don't curl wrist but write away from chest, paper turned 90 degrees with bottom to right. On credit card electronic signing pads that won't rotate away, I do curl my wrist.
4b. Don't curl wrist when eating.

ALSO: When I took American Sign Language, they taught us to sign (esp. spell) with our writing hand ... but this never worked for me in practice because I almost always carried books/stuff in my right hand and so needed to sign with my left (also use keys with left hand for the same reason). I think my right is stronger but my left has more fine motor control.

I do believe in and have experienced paranormal / religious events.

Since you don't know me, here's a quick rundown:
Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0: Strategic, Ideation, Learner, Input, Intellection
Multiple Intelligences: 100% Logic/Math, 90% Visual/Spatial, 90% Naturalist, 80% Verbal
Jung/MBTI/Keirsey: very INTP Architect but also pretty INFP Healer (see next)
Cognitive Functions: Ti, Fi, Te, Ne
Enneagram: 5 9 4 so/sx/sp.
______

PSs:

When reading your description of right/left brains in the Quantum Consciousness Redux post, I really identified with the Right Side but, when looking at the image, I identified with more of the Left Brain items.

Regarding your posts on Shakespeare: He was a first cousin to one of my ancestors. The family was very intermarried (see my blog post My Family Tree is a Topiary!). I don't know that this info would alter any of your views but thought you might like to know.

Found your blog from your SciAm article comment on Learning Styles.

Right Mind Matters said...

Sunny, You sound very bilateral to me with your description, plus your mother herself said it was hard to decide which was your dominant hand. If fine motor skills are in the left, that would be more usual for a right-dominant person. With all the mixing (including your ancestors!), I'm not surprised that you have so many mixed features and are prone to the paranormal. A friend of mine is an Enneagram specialist and provided this for me:

head type that seeks detachment in the face of fear
Calm is 9
4 is creative and the desire to be unique
this is called Tritype
its a type in each centeer
head, heart, and body
the so means they are sensitiver to social position
and think of their place in group hierarchies
5 is towards systemizer on the Baron Cohen empathy systemizer vs empathy continuum

You sound like a very interesting person!

Gabriela Chile said...

Hi,

I'm female, right handed
Chose face B

1. left hand up
2. right foot
3. i close right eye, see the object with left eye through the triangle
4. i dont curl my hand

and i'm left face-hemisphere dominant. i'm a little weird, maybe thats why i'm such a nerd. i'd love a comment about this. cheers!

Elaine said...

Left hand up, right foot, triangle center through R eye (but I only use my R eye because I see double), No hand curling. My eye chaos (only using R eye because crossed eyes and surgery as a baby) is mixed with left hearing dominance--have lost more hearing in R ear than in left. So there we have the human mess--and somehow we still function. Thanks, Elaine

Right Mind Matters said...

Hi Gabriela,

You seem left-hemisphere dominant (right-handed, right foot forward, no hand-curling. Choosing B would make you right-dominant for faces, so I'm wondering why you say you are left-dominant there. Still, you put your left hand up when you cross your arms and that gives you a measure of bilaterality, which increases your chances for a little weirdness. I'm sure you wouldn't have it any other way!

Right Mind Matters said...

Hi Elaine,

You don't say here if you're left- or right-handed. But if you're right-handed, you sound mixed with the left hand up; and, if you hear better in your left ear, that's coming from the right hemisphere. As you say, the eye dominance was fallout from the surgery. But, I'm curious, do you have scoliosis? I think sometimes our anatomical quirks are forced by a genetic shift in our bone structure. I have scoliosis and also had "crossed" or what's called a "lazy" eye as a child (no surgery). They sorted out on their own, but I barely use my right eye.

Shawn M. Cohen said...

Hi Carole, you asked so here are the results: A. ) Right hand. B) Right foot C) right eye D) right handed and write with it open uncurled. If this rocks your world, I was born psychic and have been one all my life, nearly 58 years old. Professional Psychic Medium,for 31 years.Degree in Metaphysics. Now will this prove anything? In my opinion no but hey if it makes you happy, enjoy my results.:-) Shawn Cohen Http://www.tarotbyshawncohen.weebly.com

Right Mind Matters said...

Hi Shawn, thanks for taking the test and becoming a follower! I see all that right-sided evidence but you did choose the A face, which is the atypical result for 20% of right-handers, according to Jaynes's test. Similarly, in my test so far, 19% of right handers have chosen A. No, one result doesn't prove much, but that's why I'm running the test. But, someone as strongly psychic as you are, I would think, would have something different going on and this may be a clue.

Shawn M. Cohen said...

Ok Carole, I am not sure what it means but best of luck with it, thanks for asking me. :-) Shawn

Art Wolk said...

Hi, Carole, This is an old classmate from 6th grade: Mr. DeLeo's class. I was very struck by your description of right-hemisphere dominated people.
Like you, I am also left handed. I chose figure A. I am right-eye dominant, write like Clinton (and hold my fork that way), my right hand is up when I cross my arms, and I begin walking up stairs with my left foot. I've had two unbelievable (actually scary) precognitive experiences. I am what has been called a super-recognizer (i.e., able to see childhood photos of famous people and know who they are). Regarding artistic ability: I played classical guitar for many years, have had about 500 photos and two books published. I'm now writing fiction. I am studying statistical mathematics because I find it not just interesting, but fun. I want to become fluent in Spanish and have started down that path.

Right Mind Matters said...

Arthur! How nice to hear from you! I don't remember your being left-handed from back in the day, but I wasn't very cognizant myself of our specialness, being 11 years old.

it seems you've grown into a very interesting man, with very mixed traits: choosing A, shows unusual left-hemisphere dominance for the visuospatial, while your language and hand-dominance show right-hemisphere dominance, but not, unequivocally, since you cross your arms with the right hand up. The music and the photography, depending on what form they take could be left or right. Classical sounds left; what kind of photography is it. Are your books about your photography or something else entirely? The interest in math is very left dominant. It was in 6th grade that I met long division and I have been hopelessly inadequate in that domain every since. I couldn't major in psychology as an undergraduate because it required taking statistics! Hence, French, which was always easy for me. But my abiding interest is neuroscience combined with creative minds.

Now you want to learn Spanish. Bilaterals show the most varied talents, and are the most predisposed to paranormal experiences. I'd love to hear about your precognitions, if you don't mind divulging them.

Thanks for you comment!

Anonymous said...

Interesting subject.

B. Face

Left hand up in crossed arms

Step with Left first.

Left Eye Dominate

Right handed and write with hand up and not curled.

I bat and throw right handed.

I shoot a rifle left handed.

I also have Aspergers and an IQ of 137. Vocalizing ideas is very hard for me but writing/typing is easy. Math/Science is of course my strongest fields and am by employment an engineer.

Pete



Right Mind Matters said...

Interesting mind, Pete! With your excellence in math and science and the fact that you are an engineer, I would surmise a left-dominant brain. You are right-handed, but you show so much right-hemisphere dominance physically: your left eye, your crossed left arm up, and your left footedness. Your difficulty in speaking versus writing may point to bilateral dominance for language. I never ceased to be amazed at the varied possibilities of brain organization, which can convey extraordinary strengths against possible weaknesses. You may want to look at a previous post where I write about savant syndrome and hemispheric differences: http://rightmindmatters.blogspot.com/2011/05/right-brain-news-from-incessant-reader_27.html

Gabriele said...

I have a problem with "triangle" part. If I look at the object which is on the left side of the triangle(from the view with my both eyes), my right eye centers it, but with an object on the right side of the triangle, the left eye puts it in the center. If an object is approximately in the middle, neither of my eye can center it. I'm probably just doing the task wrong, but can you correct me?

Right Mind Matters said...

Gabriele, make the triangle with your arms outstretched straight in front of you. Close one eye, then the other. Which eye keeps the object in the center? Thanks for taking part in the test!