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Splitting Hairs: A Hair Part Survey

Friday, February 01, 2013 - 09:10 AM

Our episode Desperately Seeking Symmetry raises a profound, identity-shaking question: how does your hair part shape your life?

Spoiler alert: we don't exactly answer that question in the show...but after hearing the story of one man's reinvention, many listeners have told us they're taking a second look at their own parting decisions.

So -- let your hair choices be counted!


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Comments [90]

Marjorie Holland from Vancouver, WA

I listened to parts of this when it first came out and just catching up now. To be precise, the Lincoln part is just his whole face flipped, I am sure others have pointed this out. To be more accurate with whether his face would look different, someone needs to photoshop just his hair.

Jul. 21 2014 05:16 PM
Cindi Rudy

I am an ambidextrous person, but predominately right-handed. I eat left-handed, cross-sight my camera, and write right-handed. I part my hair on the right - it just feels right. I also wear my watch on the right hand, which people have told me all my life is wrong - but it feels right. I have changed my hair part over the years though I always seem to come back to the right part. After listening to the hair part story, I'm seriously considering changing it again. :)

Feb. 01 2014 09:55 PM
Karl Philippi from Newtown, Ct

This is purely "in the mind of the beholder". I don't see any significant difference in either Lincoln or myself. I think that it has more to do with the power of suggestion than anything else. It's a great conversation starter for a dinner party though.

Feb. 01 2014 04:15 PM
Courtney from Erie, PA

I've experimented with both parts. The left parts where I'd like it to, and it gives me the androgynous look that I love. The right parts a little toward the middle as I have a cowlick, and it gives me a more feminine look. I use that for interviews and formal events as it is more appropriate for those sort of occasions.

I first heard about this when watching Nova's "Dogs Decoded." They explain the left-side bias and it seems that dogs do this as well. They theorized that this is how dogs seem to know what we're thinking. I was mentioning this to someone a few days later. She said that as my left part results in my hair being over the right side of my face - the side that others look at first - I may be unintentionally hiding. This makes perfect sense. I've had many, many people in my life assume that I'm a rebel or trouble maker despite professional clothes and make-up and an excellent speech vocabulary. I parted my hair the other way and then people took me seriously.

I discovered RadioLab thanks to my amazing girlfriend. When listening to this episode and John Walter's story, I was absolutely thrilled to have my suspicions confirmed. I understand this. I have been there. In summary, thank you for being awesome.

Oct. 20 2013 02:22 AM
Kate from USA

The majority of people I've seen part their hair left (probably 80% out of those who part their hair). Does that mean that they're all logical, left-brained, analytical, etc? No, it just means that they're right handed and it's easier for them.

Apr. 07 2013 10:56 AM
michelle from Pittsburgh

I remember reading an article on whether or not parting your hair makes a difference. It noted that to appear "logical, analytical, etc" - parted on the left. And "artistic, or sociable" - right. Being thirty years old, and having a back ground in classical music but also as an Analyst in the Natural Resources Industry... I part my hair on the left for interviews but when I go out to see some bands, or a night on the town, I actually part it on the right. And I believe it actually works. I don't know about the interviews... although I've had no problem landing a job (it has more to do with just the hair parting) btu I have noticed that when I do part it on the right, I get more strangers (male/female) who want to come up and talk to me. I could see people who work in sales probably parting it on the right? But isn't there a huge no no when it comes to parting the hair on the right for guys?

Feb. 25 2013 09:31 AM
Wolfsaben from Currently Afghanistan

When I was a kid I had short hair and parted it on the right. In highschool and college I parted my hair in the middle because I had grown my hair out very long. Later, I cut all my hair off, and stopped parting it at all and sporting a sport/military cut. thinking about parting my hair, I realized that as a right handed person, it feels more natural to move the brush one way than the other.

Feb. 22 2013 12:11 AM
dread pirate clinton from Montreal

I suppose my hair parting options leave my daily superhero choice to Lex Luthor.

Feb. 20 2013 02:53 PM
Liz from Columbia, SC

Here's a wildly informal observation about these results: parting hair on the right seems more common in the southern hemisphere. Is this caused by the same force that makes the toilet water drain in the opposite direction?

Feb. 17 2013 10:54 PM
Molly who can't help it from Austin

I now have this wonkin' (hidden by hair) scar on top of my head that decides for me that my hair parts on the right. We get along fine. But yeah, I remember deliberately changing my part around 15 years of age and I dare say it changed my life. I had been shy about making bold fashion changes because of all the comments from the judgmental peanut gallery that is high school, but decided it was subtle enough that I could handle it. Totally worked. Totally got the 'did you change something?' from a boy. So then I had the power to dye it bright pink. Thanks, side part!

Feb. 11 2013 01:27 AM
Tara D from woodside, ca

I remembered something i heard growing up in India, where little and young girls were told to never part their hair down the middle, that middle part was for grownups aka married ladies, that it doesnt look beautiful on young girls, that a left part (not explicitly mentioned as left, but hair would be styled that way) makes them look more pretty. Weird, i thought then. Now, I see there is some social science to it.

Feb. 08 2013 08:01 PM
fdosher from Houston, tx

Ichange my part throughout the week, depending on how my hair is behaving or how I want it to look that day.

Feb. 08 2013 02:09 PM
Geoffrey R. Childs from Lincoln, NE

I think your survey should have encluded a question: is the person right or left handed.
Right handed people well pick up the comb in their right hand and part their hair on the left and pull it to the right. A left handed person well take the comb in their left hand and part the hair on the right and pull it to their left. I think it would have been a useful piece of information for your survey.

Feb. 07 2013 10:16 PM
Connie from Colorado

I use a swirl around the crown over short hair; it presents counter-clock wise to an observer. there is no part, only a whorl.

Feb. 07 2013 03:53 PM
Marci Waters from Moorestown NJ

What does it say about your innate personality if your hair 'naturally' parts on the right? The left? Does this have anything to do with being left or right-brained? My questions are a little tongue-in-cheek but I would like to know why hair does seem to find where it wants to part all by itself. Anyone?

Feb. 06 2013 12:00 PM
Tuna67 from UP, Michigan

What if the look is exactly the same regardless of the way you part it? OMG, I need counseling!

Feb. 05 2013 07:41 PM
Marjorie from Chico, CA

Most of my adult life I parted left of center,but because of the grey streak in front I changed to right of center. Life hasn't been so great sinse then, I have lost jobs, been unemploy for long bouts, and I don't seem to connect to other well, even my spouse and children. I have decided to switch to center for a while then back to left of center again to see how things go. I am definately sending this link to my hair dresser.

Feb. 05 2013 12:36 PM
Dave from Vermont

I was listening to the show driving from Vermont to NYC. I started pushing my hair to the other side in a CT bathroom. I have been parting the other way now for four days. I am not sure yet of the impact yet. I do feel somewhat more calm but not sure if it's related. I have not noticed any reaction from the outisde world except that driving back to Vermont while everyone else in my car slept a woman in another car smiled at me and we played tag a little bit. Again, is this related?

Feb. 05 2013 09:14 AM
HaydynJ from Texas

For years I was a left-side parter. But with my most recent haircut, I've decided that I can get a different look depending upon where I part it. So I go for left, right, and middle depending on how I'm feeling for the day - and what looks good after a night's sleep.

Feb. 05 2013 04:58 AM

I had my middle-of-the-back length hair cut super short a year and a half ago, also changing from left-part to no part, as my short hair was very curly. I did not "recognize" myself in the mirror until my hair was long enough to part again AND past my shoulders. I'm going to try a right-part now to see if I know myself.

Feb. 04 2013 09:59 AM
sheryl from toledo

i mentioned an older book on your symmetry site, and i forgot to mention that the author of that book said if there was a big difference between the left and right side of the face, there was a strong chance of mental illness, etc. he or she had many pictures in this book, and i am sorry i can't remember its title, but it was interesting--the premise was that we should look more or less alike on both sides, but that the right side of the face is the public face and the left side the private--if it is all messed up, it reflects a messed up mind, or state of mind.

Feb. 04 2013 04:57 AM
gusman from Penn's Pocket

The effect of flipping horizontally the photo of Abraham Lincoln was very interesting. Where there's a look of compassion as we see him, I read a sort of domineering ambition in the flipped version.
Now, since doing this, the idea of flipping a photo portrait of Adolph Hitler just came to mind. So I used one from
When flipped, the hair part does have an effect. His eyes are just as skewed and stone cold. But somehow not as bad... Weird. It looks like he could cry.

Feb. 04 2013 01:38 AM
Liz from MN

After listening to this segment on the radio I immediately went to the mirror and changed my part. Everything seems to be going swell.

Feb. 03 2013 11:55 PM

As a youth, I struggled with a part that I liked and felt comfortable with (mainly because I have two cowlicks in the back of my head). Eventually, in my junior year of High School I settled with a part in the middle. I felt like I was just conforming with popular demand. This felt like an expression of my conforming and undeciding sub-conscious mind. In college, I went back to choosing a side. Some weeks I was a "righty", other weeks I was a "lefty". Never really fitting in either way. Then one day, while watching a teenage comedy flick, one of the characters had a cool style of hair WITHOUT a part! He called it a faux-hawk (a portmanteau of faux and Mohawk). Not quite an anarchist, flag-burning mohawk; but still hip enough to where a suit with it. That was what I needed! The next day I style my hair in that same style. BAM! It was like I was a new man. I got tons of unsolicited positive comments that day. One of the hottest girls on campus took some interest in me. It was crazy! Because people started to notice me more, I evetually rubbed shoulders with the woman that would eventually be my wife. I started to have more direction and less indecision. It was uncanny.

Feb. 03 2013 11:50 PM
Heide from NC from NC

I part my hair on the right to counter a cowlick. My hairdresser one day told me that most MEN part their hair on the right which presumes, I guess, that most women part on the left??! So do left parted people represent feminine characteristics such as kindness and nuturing behavior? Do right parted people represent masculine characteristics such as analytical problem solving and aggressiveness? Is this yet another twist to symmetry and reflection?

Feb. 03 2013 08:29 PM
LaLa from The Great Lakes

I've sported a facial scar from a MVA sustained at the age of ten. Every since then, I have parted my hair on the right, letting my hair fall over my left eye & hiding the periorbital scar. When I listened to Radio Lab today, I "clicked" with John's revelations in being spurned by others. I, also, have often wondered why I have been on the outside of social interactions. When I look into the mirror, I see my hair parted on the it truly is. I believe this is because I automatically have a left landmark; the scar next to my eye. Of course I parted on hair on the left. My husband liked it and wondered what I did to look better (after being married 33 years). Hmmm! The experimenting has begun. Fascinating fun.

Feb. 03 2013 06:29 PM
H Bright from Spokane Wa. 99201

Lincoln photos in his day developed as reversed on glass or tin-type seen in later copies as reversed again to correct. Not an issue for this subject. Myself, I "comb" what's left of my hair with a damp washcloth making me neither Superman nor Clark Kent.

Feb. 03 2013 05:43 PM

Where are the bleeping Lincoln pictures!?!?

Feb. 03 2013 04:30 PM
Diane from Jacksonville, FL

I currently part my hair on the left but change to the right side periodically because my hair seems to "lift" better (in the belief that the hairs get lazy and need to exercise!) Back in the '80's I wanted to move up in the corporate structure and decided that the way to do this was to have people see me differently. I cut my hair, permed it and got a promotion in less than 6 weeks! True story.

Feb. 03 2013 03:52 PM
William R. Wallace

Alright so I am a pretty good looking guy (also very modest) but I have been parting my hair on the right for a long time and thinking "damn son, looking good" but after listening to this episode of Radio lab for the umpteenth time I decided that I had to test it out so I changed my part. Immediately my wise ass sister commented on it but didn't really pass judgement. But the next day I was at bed bath and beyond to buy some flatware and as I was looking rather lost I pretty young lady asked if I needed help and I said yes and when all was said and done I walked away with some nice new flatware and her number. Coincidence? maybe this is only day two of my experiment so obviously inconclusive but encouraging. Gonna keep it up and keep a running journal of how things go for me. However I would mention that Han Solo, arguably the most bad ass dude in the universe, parts his hair on the left.

Feb. 03 2013 03:40 PM
Ford from North Carolina

To start with as a child I fought to create a left/right part against the massive cow lick I have on my right side of my head. I yielded and went with either a crew cut or the Moe Howard bowl cut. I parted down the middle (winged back bangs and long in the back in my from ~19 through my twenties(1980's). It was a productive cut as far as the being attractive but around 30 I did away with the part, bangs, and mustache. This was a good move. I attribute it to the fact that a mullet and mustache attracts a certain type of woman. I finally left the eighties. I may have went back to the sixties with the pony tail but at least I left the mullet. I think losing the mullet did more than losing the part. I did shave my head once and I definitely noticed a lack of acceptance throughout the entire process of growing out the hair to shoulder length.

Feb. 03 2013 02:55 PM
Flanagan MacKenzie

My hair chooses it's own part. I have learned over the years not to argue with it. I will start noting how people treat me on right days vs left days.

Feb. 03 2013 02:03 PM
Cheryl from Washington State

I've switched the part in my hair at least once a week for years. I prefer it parted on the left, but my hair stylists have always argued for a part on the right. I find I am not taken as seriously when I part my hair on the right, though I often get more compliments on my appearance. Hmmm.

Feb. 03 2013 12:56 PM
Mark from Bay Village

I changed my part to the left side (I'd been doing it on the right my whole life) immediately after listening to this episode of Radiolab. I can say with certainty that I have gotten more attention from the opposite sex since. Thanks Radiolab!

Feb. 02 2013 09:09 PM
Carla Tacy

I have a wicked cowlick on the right side of my head and really straight hair. I have been fighting with this dang cowlick my whole life. I have noticed that when I have hairstyles that involves parting my hair on the left, with or without bangs, the man in my life, whoever he is then, prefers that. I really find that infuriating because it requires me to blow dry my hair on a daily basis and yet, I succumb to it. I am parting my hair to the left these days, at age 56....sigh.

Feb. 02 2013 05:56 PM
John from New York

More on the Hair Part Theory, including examples here...

Feb. 02 2013 05:32 PM
Kecoleo from Seattle

I don't have a hair part but I have very curly hair. After I take a shower my hair always looks different, the curls curl differently or clumps differently. Almost most everyday that I see someone they ask if I got a haircut or did something different with my hair. The thing is, I will sometimes be treated differently or they will except my ideas easily or not as easily I wonder if this "hair parting" has any influence in this?

Feb. 02 2013 04:59 PM
Dr. David Stephen from Denver

Our heads are not exactly symmetrical and our hair growth has natural swirls and grain, like our fingerprints. Facial symmetry and perceived "beauty" are highly correlated. Anything you can do to "compensate" for your asymmetry will probably enhance others' perceptions of your personal good looks. Perhaps you can not make your face more symmetrical but you may be able to do cosmetic things that compliment your symmetry in some ways, perhaps by calling attention to parts that are symmetrical. Likewise a "beauty mark" may seem attractive because it creates a facial "contrast" that perhaps calls attention to features of the face that ARE symmetrical and thus calling attention AWAY from some of the asymmetrical features. Maybe hair style compliments the face in the same way that a curtains can enhance a window view or a picture frame can enhance the perceived beauty of what it frames. ...maybe?

Feb. 02 2013 04:54 PM
Barb from Indianapolis

I have short hair... sometimes, like today, I part it on the right; my hairdresser always parts my hair on the left; but usually I just fluff it and there is no part.
BTW, I recall seeing in (I think) Mad Magazine, in maybe the late 60s, pictures of different famous people, including Richard Nixon, with their hair parted opposite how we usually see it.

Feb. 02 2013 04:51 PM
Kaminator from 98686

I part my hair on the right (the part is on the right, meaning I flip it to the left). When I was a teenager (on East Coast), I noticed that almost every other male person I knew, parted my hair on the left. And my barber (I went to the same barber every time) would also tell me tat I parted my hair the wrong way for my hair swirl. Whatever. So I tried it the other way but it did not feel right (when looking in the mirror of course). Listened to the radio show and am thinking of changing it the other way but the thought of it is scary. Throughout life (I am 62 year old), I have been a popular guy; people like me; some people even think I am special; people trust me. Had formerly attributed it to my easy-going, self-deprecating, naturally empathetic style; but now I wonder if it was my hair and if I change my hair, it might change my likability, like that guy in the parking lot when he was 19 years old.

Feb. 02 2013 04:02 PM
Angie from Portland, OR

I agree with a couple of the commenters that the left-side part is more likely for right-handers and since there are more righties than lefties, there are far more people who part their hair on the left. I will go a step further and suggest that we notice when someone's hair is parted on the right side, and we associate it with being left-handed, a trait that historically has aroused suspicion and disapproval. This noticing is subconscious, but it's there. And on this subconscious level,fairly or unfairly, we are suspicious of the right-side part.

Feb. 02 2013 04:01 PM
Kathleen from 07430

I have heard this story before. I part my hair on the left. My hair naturally parts on the left. I have a cowlick on the back left side (corner if you will) of my crown so if I try to part it any other way my cowlick gets pronounced terribly. It's a problem to try other styles so I just keep my hair as long as possible and keep a left (off center) part. Otherwise it try's to flop back and ends up in my face.

I have also experienced something from another story that radio lab had done concerning facial recognition.

I have noticed that a few people I have met before, don't remember meeting me. Mind you, I can recall the exact time I met them, their name and even what they were wearing at the time. My mother in law's friend, for the longest time, would never say hello to me even though I had been meeting her through my mother in law for 20 some odd years. I dated my husband for 20yrs. Before we decided to make it official. It wasn't until I was married that she would recognize me without my in law being present. I have noticed it with others but not as bad as that particular situation. After they talked about it on radio lab I thought they didn't like me for some reason. Now I believe some people lack the ability for facial recognition. Either that or I lack any redeemable qualities, and am not impressionable enough for them. I hope it's not the later.

Feb. 02 2013 02:48 PM
Sarah from Texas

I have always parted my hair on the left. Even in my junior high I-love-everything-Janis-Joplin days I couldn't fully commit to a middle part. However, in a post-college existential freakout, I shaved my head, which is when I discovered I had a prominent cowlick on the right. As my fur inches toward a less Sinead O'Rebellion style, I've kept it parted on the right to accommodate this. Now I wonder if it was the hard reality of getting the least marketable degree ever or my change in hairstyle that has made life after college so wonky.

Feb. 02 2013 02:13 PM
Kathleen from Ephrata, WA

Oddly enough, canines look to the left of the human face for expression, direction and guidance. Watch your pets when you talk to them, they will always look first to the left side of your face.

Feb. 02 2013 01:53 PM
Symmetry doesn't work for me from Texas

My hair is not symmetrical. Noticeably thicker on the left than the right. It naturally wants to part on the thin side- the right. I try blow drying it to part on the left to make the right side thicker but it always flops back. I do feel like a new person for the short time it stays though. I even look different.

Feb. 02 2013 01:36 PM
Theresa from Brooklyn, NY

My hair naturally, and stubbornly, parts on the left. When my hair is wet, it just parts itself on the left. When windblown, and allowed to settle on its own, it parts on the left. It just really wants to be parted on the left, so I just don't fight it.

Feb. 02 2013 12:43 PM
Resa from Northfield NH

I changed my part from right to left in order to accommodate a cranky cowlick with whom I had been in an endless battle for control...Now we are at hair "peace" and tranquility is restored!

Feb. 02 2013 10:56 AM
Jackie from Philadelphia, PA

I always change my hair part from the right to left, back to right. For me, it's like having a new start every once in a while.

Feb. 02 2013 10:46 AM
Catherine Maillet from Montréal

Hello! I think that you should of ask about the a bangs (or what we call in french a toupette) ! It's almost existential for a girl! To have a « toupette » or not to have a « toupette ». Think about it!

Feb. 02 2013 10:06 AM
Margaret from Mamaroneck

You left out the category "extreme comb-over". To see movies now, going from comb-over to cue ball is DEFINITELY a super hero move.

Feb. 02 2013 09:53 AM
Federico Piola from Glendale, AZ

Every time I want to experience a drastic change in my life I shave my hear off. It really works :)

Feb. 02 2013 04:30 AM
Anthony from France

It seems that a lot of people part their hair on the left. Could it be because more people are right handed than left handed? The hand movement seems to be smoother that way. Do left handed people part their hair more on the right than right handed people do?
I am right handed and have always parted on the left.

Feb. 02 2013 02:05 AM
jenessa from seattle

left, always have~ picasso style asymmetry nonetheless~ everything on my left side is bigger, foot, breast, face~ loved the show ;^)

Feb. 01 2013 10:52 PM

I'm male. When I'm out, it's in a ponytail, so no part. At home it's loose and parted down the middle. I've never thought to change it, as having long hair parted on the side seems too feminine. (I occasionally get called "ma'am" as it is, no need to make it worse.)

Feb. 01 2013 10:20 PM
Debbie from Land O Lakes, FL

Having been a teen girl in the 70s, I naturally have had the long hair parted down the middle. These days, it seems to naturally part on the right. For some reason, sometimes my hair stylist sometimes parts it on the left to cut it, and it always looks good afterward!

Feb. 01 2013 08:19 PM
erica cooper

I have parted my hair either to one side or down the middle at different times of my life. I think I have had a middle part for the past year or so. Recently, I thought I was looking old, boring, frumpy, dragged down (I am 31). I saw a picture of myself taken anout 5 or 6 years ago. I thought "Wow, I really like how my hair looks there". The next day I took the picture and went and stood in front of my bathroom mirror. What was different? Well, in the picture I had a left side part. I got my hair wet, parted it on the left, and boy oh boy- don't I feel better.

Feb. 01 2013 07:58 PM
Hillary from Brooklyn New York

When I was 16 I began parting my hair on the right side. At first it was way too far over but after my whole life (all 16 years of it) going down the middle- it took a while for my hair to adjust. But my life did change. Completely.

Feb. 01 2013 06:00 PM
Alison from Toronto-ish

I haven't parted my hair for maybe 30 years. Today, I got a hair cut not from my regular hairdresser. This woman - I had no idea what she was doing - she blow dried my curly hair straight and then she freaking parted my freaking hair on the right. I look like my brother looked as a teenager trying not to have curly hair with this dumb lopsided pouf on top. I should have complained. I didn't. I left the shop and flouffled up my hair and I will wash it and return it to its partless state before I see anyone.

Feb. 01 2013 05:54 PM

I am a black guy. You can only know how important hair lines and hair cuts are for a black teen age or young man, only if you have grown up as one among many others. My hairline leans radically up to the left and I believe its getting worse as I age. ( I am turning 40 next month). Funny enough, I didn't notice it at all until I was in my early 20's. I was attending a nearly all white collage and my friend ( another black guy) pointed it out to me and my professor as the 3 of us were talking informally. He was describing my personality to the professor arguing that I tend to draw lean lines, I hang my work up on the wall lean, and even my hair line was also lean. I thought it was ridiculous, until the professor who I had a lot of respect for, agreed.

Immediately after the conversation I went straight to the mens room and looked at my hair line in the mirror and saw that it was indeed leaning to one side. It was not because of a bad hair cut but because that is just the way it was. So the next time I went to the barber, I pointed it out to him when he was finished and said "can you fix it?" He tried but all he was able to accomplish was to make it less obvious. Besides, after a few days the hair started to grow back and it looked like I was having a 5 o'clock shadow below the right side of my hair line. So it was a high maintenance deal that I was not prepared to handle.

So then, a few months ago I was listening to the Lincon episode here on Radio Lab and started thinking about it. So the next time I cut my hair (these days I self barber) I decided to correct it. I figured that since I am usually clean shaven and shave almost daily, why not? Now I am satisfied and though I don't quite feel like superman I think I feel a lot more confident about myself.

Feb. 01 2013 05:28 PM
Joan Hutcheson from New York

After hearing the Symmetry show, I tried changing my part. It took some getting used to, but I have to say in hindsight that YES! It worked! Since then, I've solidified a best friend, gone on tour, met the perfect boyfriend, moved into a fantastic new apartment with him and couldn't be more optimistic about where things are heading. That's a 180 from where I was when I heard the episode...
Could trying this trick have been a sign that I was already opening myself up to new possibilities, and therefore destined for better things anyway? Or was it the hair part that made it happen?!?! Who knows. All I know is that I am thankful for Radiolab, Jad, Robert, and the return of good fortune in my life. Thank you! :)

Feb. 01 2013 05:05 PM
Rachel from Kentucky

I change my part nearly everyday. It just depends upon my mood, what my hair is doing (aka: good vs bad hair day). Some days I go straight down the middle. I can't stand having the same hair style day after day so I really try to mix it up. I recently cut about 12 inches off of my hair and now I can really do more with it except put it all in a pony tail, bang kind of rule that out.

Feb. 01 2013 04:16 PM
Madame Jekyll from Bordeaux

I was trying to grow out my shoulder length hair so instead of trimming it, I switched my part to the left side for a change. I thought it looked good when I looked in the mirror, but it was really obvious to me that others did not agree. My best example is one day I was in a store, looking at flat screen tvs and I saw one of the sales men checking me out -- I was kinda faced away from him. He strode over to me and as I turned around, he actually grimaced when he saw my face. No joke. Ok, I'm not a supermodel, but I can say I'm not bad looking either, well, not so much to receive a grimace! Long story short, hair is back to being parted on the right and definitely no more grimacing sales men.

Feb. 01 2013 03:03 PM
Tim from California

I'm surprised that so many people have answered with a left part. I was always under the impression that the right part was more widely used and seen.

Feb. 01 2013 03:03 PM
adriana Atema from brooklyn ny

i heard the story on the hair part a while back and i had a very similar life changing experience changing from right side part to left
i am experiential/interactive installation artist and painter in redhook brooklyn, and much of my work deals with issues of symmetry. i begin all my paintings with my left and right hand at the same time. the action of painting engages the entire body. the painting becomes an artifact of this action. i find a kind of peace is in the liminal space between doing more than one thing at once, engaging left and right hand/brain at the same time. i also play many instruments, and i find playing piano in particular articulates left and right hands switching dominance and at moments working in synchronicity
anyways, i was dealing with some chronic health stuff for most of my life, and wherever i have lived in the last 10 years, i always have gotten acupuncture. in acupuncture, and traditional chinese medicine, the pulses in the wrists is taken as part of the diagnosis process. i always laugh to my acupuncturist that the right side of me is like a strong broken hearted carpenter man building a cabin in the forest and the left side of me is like a tiny mouse whispering in a black hole in outer space. in other words, my right pulse is always strong warm robust and sensitive, while my left side pulse is colder, thinner, and harder to find.
a few years ago, when i was living in SF, i decided to bring more energy and warmth into the left side of my body in an attempt to be more balanced and healthy. i switched my hair part to the left, and started painting my left pointer finger and thumb in a bright hot color (even today my pointer nail is florescent pick, no polish ever on other nails). i remember at the time that this subtle change helped me very much!!
everywhere people said that i was looking better and i know this is probably my imagination, but i believe people seemed kinder and more generally more attracted to me. maybe this is just my "better side", but i felt the change. now when i try to part my hair on the right, like i did for the first 29 years of my life, i feel like i am being my old self, like the me of the right part and the me of the left part (bc/ad=rp/lp) almost different people!! i love the left part now... well, i could go on about this but i am trying to be brief..
cool stuff tho, and amazing that anyone else at all shares my extreme left right differential sensitivities is miraculous to me!
(recently built a "yawning booth" that illustrates interconnectivity and mirror neurons through physical response to yawning stimuli. that project shows similarities and difference of human experience as well as internal vs. external environments.. the variation of people, from super sensitive responders to not yawning at all, makes me less surprised that others could be as engaged with this hyper-sensitivity to the left and right sides of the brain hands and Hair! very interesting!!)

Feb. 01 2013 03:00 PM
Simone from New York, New York

I am a righty parter that also switched for the sake of experimentation after listening to said show. Turns out there wasn't much difference in the way I was received. Although my left side of my face is in fact the more expressive, I don't mind hiding it because it has become more wrinkly than the right. In conclusion, I think the idea is rather silly. I think how people interpret your appearance has less importance than self empowerment. If clown pants make you feel like you an conquer all obstacles, then by all means get a pair for every day of the week!

Feb. 01 2013 02:53 PM
Pamela from Seattle

I loved this episode when I heard it over a year ago. So I was particularly excited when I moved to Seattle, started work at popular local salon named 7, and learned that they actually teach cutting design theory based on which side is most appropriate for a client to part their hair. It's called the lower eye theory.

Everyone has a side of their face that sits higher than the other. On some people it's noticeable, on others it can be less obvious. The side that sits higher creates more obvious shadows and accentuates angles. Parting your hair on this side will draw the eye from that part of the head down to that side of the face, making one look more austere, more angular and, generally, older. The other side, the lower side, is generally the softer side. It has softer shadows and looks more youthful. This is usually the side that people are referring to when they talk about their "good side" in photos. So parting hair on that side draws the eye of an onlooker to that side of the face. This is generally the more "likeable" or approachable parting.

So yes! It does matter which side you part on. It can make you look older or younger, less approachable or more likeable. It all depends on what your part is drawing the eye to see.

Feb. 01 2013 02:53 PM
Jacob from Seattle

I changed my part from the middle to the left in high school. I gained in popularity and reduced the incidents of bullying. It was definitely a good decision!

Feb. 01 2013 02:53 PM
Genevieve from NJ

When I parted my hair on the right instead of the left, I looked like Abe Lincoln.

Feb. 01 2013 02:51 PM
Vinny's Ex from San Francisco

Once, I changed my part while my partner was on a business trip. I went to pick him up at the airport, and he didn't recognize me at first. In the car ride home, he asked me to change it back to the way it was because the new part made him uncomfortable. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he definitely did not like the "new" look. I admit that the left part makes me look different, and it makes me feel different, simply because I had to be careful about which way I ran my fingers through my hair to the point that I stopped running my fingers through my hair. I got a little paranoid that I would mess up my hair completely.

The part is a powerful act, and one that shouldn't be meddled with!

Feb. 01 2013 02:35 PM
James Gomez from London, UK

I'm in the minority of right-parters, and I'm also in the minority of left-handed people. Coincidence? Can you add another question and find out?

Feb. 01 2013 02:23 PM
Brendan from Kenosha, WI

When I need a good disguise I always part my hair on the right, it throws people off. When I was little I parted my hair down the middle and I ended up just looking like a bad politician from some unknown area of the United States. Now I just part my hair on the left and it works.

Feb. 01 2013 02:13 PM
Chris from London

I changed the side of my parting as a result of listening to the radiolab episode in question.

Looking in the mirror at the hairdresser it didn't look as good to me but quite a few people commented (unprompted) that it looked really good after the change.

On reflection I think it also led to a small increase in positive attention from the opposite sex, though sadly only a small one.

Thanks for all your hard work with Radiolab, love the show.

Feb. 01 2013 02:12 PM
Farmer Dan from Portland, OR

I didn't so much change my part as I got rid of my part by going with a shaved head. I stopped going to get my hair cut and bought electric clippers. I use the #1 guard, the shortest setting. That alone was a liberating event. I can get my hair cut anytime I want for free by me. Ever since that time my life has gotten better. Granted, like others have said, there are other things that happened in my life around that time, but it is an odd coincidence. However, I do feel like people notice me more and look me in the face more with my new shaven style. Could be just a change in perception I've had, but could be the hair.

Feb. 01 2013 02:12 PM
Zelda from Paris

I'm going to throw out the race card here. I'm Black and part my hair in the middle on the right and, less often, on the left. I'm not attached to any, the location depends on how I decide to do my hair - up, back, afro puffs, etc.. I've even been known to do zig-zags and S's.

Feb. 01 2013 02:10 PM
Don McMahan from Ireland

Tried center part back in the 60s when that was in style, or so I seemed to think at the time, it never worked out too well. my natural part is on the left. the hair has to be fairly long to go against the natural part and after 20 years with a military haircut so no chance to experiment with alternative parting I am now simply happy to have hair and more than willing to let it have its own way.

Feb. 01 2013 02:05 PM
Ivy from YVR

I change my part all the time! I part my hair in the middle when I feel edgy, nerdy, hipster... and switch it to the side part when I want to be glamourous or professional. It really depends on what I'm wearing and what I'm going to accomplish that day.

Feb. 01 2013 02:04 PM
Esa Salminen from Dublin, Ireland

Started saving up for long hair - two years into it now.
Said that I would cut my hair when we get new computer equipment at work, which hasn't happened.

I have been called Chuck Norris, compared with the dude from the Thor character in the movies and found that it acts as a conversation starter at the pub.

Had to start brushing my hair and drying it, which adds to the daily routine. Never had more than a few centimeters before, now its down on my back. I must say, yes - it has changed my life some.
I have grown to dislike helmets as well because of it.

Feb. 01 2013 02:03 PM
Carolyn from Albany, NY

I agree with Maureen; it'd be interesting to distinguish by gender. Also, I know it's ""wildly informal", but I think there should be a choice somewhere between superhero and ridiculous as to whether changing the part made a difference. I wouldn't say it radically changed my life, but I definitely feel more confident when I part to the right!

Feb. 01 2013 01:53 PM

Your part is part of your identity. I always part my hair on the right but recently decided I was sick of fighting with my cowlick. I parted it to the left then polled my coworkers and boyfriend. It was different but not horrendous (or so I thought). I didn't think there would be much reaction. Well it turns out not a single person liked it. My boyfriend told me I looked 'old' (I'm 25), my coworkers mostly said "hmmm...well... I mean the other side is fine" and when presenting the idea to my hair stylist, he said "Well... it's so close to the holidays, do you really want to do something so drastic? Why don't we wait until the New Year? Think about it more." Needless to say, I still haven't changed it.

Feb. 01 2013 01:50 PM
Dan from Ypsilanti, MI

While I've not adjusted the part in my hair with any success, I have noticed changes in my life/personality with major style changes. Twice I have made major changes, once going from hair to my nipples length to a standard short cut that varied from close cropped to shaggy. Then recently from short and shaggy to a buzz that I plan on keeping for a while. Both changes can be associated with attitude and personality changes. Whether there is a causational relationship I'd not venture to say, though there does seem to be an association for me. That said, I would assume that a successful change in one's hair part could easily have effects on their self-image and personality and therefore it would effect their overall life .

Feb. 01 2013 01:49 PM
Wotter Otter from 'Merica!

I changed my part in middle school to look more like my grandfather and try to impress a girl. I was half successful. I started going bald in my early 20's and decided to divorce myself from any hair style other than "high and tight." I also stopped wearing a ball cap every day. Totally changed how people addressed me.

Feb. 01 2013 01:44 PM
michelle from sacramento

i cut my hair when it was really really long and I was about 38 years old. it was parted on the middle then. so i took it to really short and my stylist parted it on the left side. I was looking in the mirror and did not like it. i had her switch it eversince. I looked at a recent picture of me, my kids, my mother and my husband.I wanted to see what side they parted their hair. and sure enough! they all part on the left and there I am parted on the right. and I realized that's why I hate the way I look in that picture. I look so weird compared to all of them. so I'm going right now to change my part for good!

Feb. 01 2013 01:16 PM
Maureen from Sacramento

I would like to see the survey results distinguished by gender. I have been under the impression (informed only by hairstylists and casual observation) that most women parted on the right, most men on the left.

Feb. 01 2013 01:13 PM
James M. Geidl from United States

This sounds more and more like a Seinfeld episode.

Feb. 01 2013 01:08 PM
d'nl from manchester, NH

when my parents permitted me to grow my hair out in 1969, i looked to see what bob dylan did. i tried to do whatever he did....seemed to work for him.

Feb. 01 2013 12:48 PM

My part falls naturally in the middle — if I brush it straight back to try to get rid of the part entirely, it settles back into a middle parting within the hour. It's been long for most of my life, but this was true even when it was early-Beatles short (though I've never had it properly short). I've tried a side-parting a couple of times, but only for a few minutes at a time, because it just feels WEIRD. Plus it would probably just rearrange itself into a middle part anyway; my hair is very obstinate.

Feb. 01 2013 11:38 AM

Ugh! I knew I was a weirdo! I am a middle part person and am so jealous of side part people. Everyone has a little hair swirly on the left side of their lovely foreheads, but mine is smack dab in the middle of mine. I don't really think you have a choice where you part your hair--it's all about the forehead swirly. Many people go against their swirly though, which is a choice, and it drives me crazy when I see it.

What is cool though, is that apparently the middle part is very in vogue...check out...vogue...or any magazine full of models. Tons of women are being styled with a middle part. So maybe I'm just genetically trendy.

I can't wait to listen to this podcast. I've been ehem...tearing my hair out over the idea of the importance of hair parting for years and years. Thank you for making a story out of it and for making a big deal out of it. Most people just think I'm crazy for paying so much attention to this fact of life.

Feb. 01 2013 11:16 AM
Partly Me from FL

During my adolescent years (after hours and hours of brushing/pulling) I managed to tame my natural part (on the right) to be centered. This awful look with my part down the middle of my head was finished by tying it back at my neckline with a rubber band. NOT GIRLY at all.
After that horrible phase, I had my hair cut all one length at the bottom of my ear line however; I kept my most prized "Middle Part" I so desperately loved. One step up to girly but keeping my tomboyish look.
Finally, my late 20's rolled around and I came to terms that I was a pretty girl and allowed to take time in front of the mirror; I grew my hair out and decided to get an amazing cut with lots of layers and color! Now, I separate my part each morning with whichever way it naturally falls But NEVER down the middle. Today, it’s on the left.

Feb. 01 2013 11:14 AM
Civil Guy from Seattle

I started parting my hair on the right when I was an adolescent. I liked how it looked in the mirror, but when I saw photos, I was less impressed. Then for years I had long hair and lately I keep it pretty short, so I haven't been doing much parting in a long time. However, nowadays when my hair gets long enough to part -- and I know this sounds a bit absurd -- it WANTS to be parted on the right, and just doesn't look or feel right if I try to part it on the left. Does hair have a "grain" to it? Or am I somehow psychologically "stuck" with the look and feel of the right-side part?

Feb. 01 2013 10:49 AM
Kilroy's Ears from KC

I part my hair on the right. I wonder though is it because I look at myself in the mirror and the image is reversed and my inner mind thinks it is actually on the left. Does our mental self image affect our actual image? If so would social media with real photos give us a different view of our self image? Would there be an age difference in hair parting? I'm asking too many questions?

Feb. 01 2013 09:56 AM

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