Background Page: Hair Part Theory – Discover the difference!

Welcome to the blog for the Hair Part Theory, the surprisingly accurate predictor of behavior and personality first described by siblings John and Catherine Walter in their original paper the Hair Part Theory .

What we have found is that while the theory is both controversial and quite bizarre, when it does apply, it can properly illuminate and gives some good explanations for completely unusual personality types.

This blog is dedicated to pointing out the figures in public life that part their hair on the right side, otherwise known as “right parters”. Because the theory posits that when you part on the right, you emphasize the right brain, you are usually seen as atypical, mysterious, and yes, quite often bizarre.

Every day we see more and more examples, so the best way to put this up is the blog that shows pictures and examples…

Important: please note that the Hair Part Theory is best understood as a potential bias – its not always present, and occurs at different degrees. Especially in regards to the right hair part – the main similarity between each person is that they just are so different than everyone else, including other right hair parters!

Read on!


30 Responses to Background Page: Hair Part Theory – Discover the difference!

  1. optikalwinter says:

    I have a natural right part that cannot be changed (believe me ive tried) because I have a whorl at the back, on the right, that grows counter clockwise thus forcing me to part my hair on the right, as I have no left part.

    I find this theory offensive to me as a man because it insinuates that I am, cannot be, and will never be percieved, as masculine. As well as such that I will always be viewed with apprehension and negativity.

    This is especially gloomy considering that I desire to be an actor and as such will never be chosen for typically leading male roles as according to the article I will be condemmed to portraying nothing but nerds, gays and villains. And that is of course assuming that I CAN get into acting because as you say the right part is viewed with scrutiny, scorn, and mistrust, denotes lack of confidence, assertiveness, authority, and masculinity.

    I have also tried parting my hair to the right for several years and noticed absolutely NO change in my social interactions. So it really just might be a “theory” after all.

    What say you to this?

    • John Walter says:

      I am sorry to hear that the theory is offensive to you and that you rightly point out that the choice of words we used is so negative. There are plenty of positives on the right side as well: sensitive, deep, heartfelt, genuine, caring, warm, complex, creative, unique, profound. The issue remains however that the right hair part on men is distinctly atypical, and as such could be a negative or a positive. It is rarely neutral. But in terms of acting, yes, a lot of quite unusual characters are cast with or from right parting men, especially if you look at commercials, where the impression must be made in less than 5 or 10 seconds. But at the same time, some of the biggest Hollywood stars and movie idols are men with right hair parts, such as Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, Tom Cruise (oops, theres the atypical one again). It seems to follow that if you are tall and handsome, the right part can work tremendously in your favor.

      Regarding your social interactions, the point of the hair part theory is that either side part signals a particular set of stereotypical character traits, and just like any stereotype, there can be exceptions and places where it doesn’t fit. But in my testing, it fits a whole lot more times than when it doesn’t. My own personal experience was that it made a huge difference right away, and even better, when i decided on no part at all, i found that to be the best – i would prefer that my hair doesn’t bias an interaction before i even do or say anything.

      thank you for your comment, and i hope that my response has been helpful

      • optikalwinter says:

        Thank you for replying to my post, i found what you said indeed helpful. I did not mean the word offensive as strongly as It probably came across, it was simply for lack of a better word.

        In any case I did a little expirementing, using reversing mirrors and taking photos of myself to see what other people see and actually I look quite good with a right hair part. Because this whole time I was using left hair part which I thought looked great until I realized that It only looks that way in a normal mirror. I cannot have a neutral part as my hair grows a natural pompadour which looks quite silly on me to be honest, so I have to keep my hair either left or right. Which is a shame really because I dont want my acting career to be determined on something as trivial as which side my hair is parted…oh well.

        My apologies for the vitriolic comment (if it came across as such)

        Maybe there is some truth to that theory after all, because I was indeed reacting out of emotion. So its possible.

        Anyways please take it easy, im going to buy one of em newfangled reverse mirrors for personal use now after what I discovered haha

  2. usaproofread says:

    I’ve got two theories. Maybe when one parts her hair on her natural hair part, she looks best or strongest, and when parting her hair to the side that’s unnatural, she looks unusual or, even, weaker.

    My second theory is that maybe the hair part looks best on the side of the face that looks more attractive, because it opens up and shows off that side of the face, making the person look more attractive.

    Lol interesting! Eh, I don’t believe this stuff too much anyways. I think there is good in any which way one parts her hair lol! That’s what’s fun about it.

    • John Walter says:

      It is possible. I just think that regardless of the positive quality of the appearance, you are still sending out strong left or right brain signals. Left is logic, masculine, assertive, visible. Right parts are softer, more feeling, feminine, receptive. No part is more balanced – or will let you do what you want without a constant bias from your hair signal.

  3. m says:

    Hello, there!

    I was wondering what it means when the person has NO hair part?

    I’m a woman, and I tend to part my hair on the left.
    But I also like it with no part, either.

    Thank you!


    • John Walter says:

      The left part on women is very common and works for them pretty well…it is the dominant, assertive side of you (aka masculine), which works in this society.

      However, i have seen a lot of women who always part on the left have more problems with appearing feminine enough…see how much grief Hilary Clinton gets for it.

      Im a big fan of no part, because you then get to be whatever you want to project, your hair is not sending a signal out. Barring that, then switching is better than just staying with one side or the other. Wear the left part for a business meeting, wear the right part for a hot date. Or if you need those feminine wiles at work to get something done, try the right part – it might work, especially if you are doing it consciously. If you need to get that relationship heading in a different direction, use the left part energy.

      if you never parted on the right, as a woman, you might be stunned to see how easy it is for you to get things just cause you are a woman, vs the left part. Try it and see… would love to hear back!

  4. Steve says:

    So what does this say about all the left parters who look in the mirror and give themselves a right part everyday? Aren’t they the true right parters in this scenario?

    • John Walter says:

      It’s actually a very interesting question – because I had limited experience when I switched my hair part from right to left (about 4 months), there was a sense that I took the “good” version out to the real world and buried the “bad” version in the mirror. But I had to confront that person every day. For a long time I ignored the apparent conflict and confusion, but after about 4 months I couldn’t take it anymore, which is when I switched to the middle part, and then eventually no part, which I think is simply much better and stronger – both sides of me get represented, I’m not emphasizing one at the expense of the other.

      When it comes to someone who has the left part their whole life, I believe that they get generally positive reinforcement from the world because the left is the logical, rational, and more easily understandable side, and the person in the mirror has it on the right, which is more mysterious and unusual…but only the viewer sees it. The left part dominates. In contrast, for a guy, wearing a right part can be highly challenging in real life from everyone, and only the single mirror image says “what’s up with that, things are fine”

      It’s a weird thing to try and figure out, but also because the mirror messes with more than just hair parts – our eyes get flipped too, and most of our natural expressions don’t look right…so we don’t really express to ourselves the way we do with the world. This was the genesis of the True Mirror being such a significant experience. Because even after I flipped my hair to the center and sort of neutralized the difference in the physical being between mirror and self, my eyes became more and more sensitive to the fact that something was still wrong. When I first saw myself in a true reflection mirror (two mirrors at right angles in a bathroom), I immediately recognized myself – “there you are” was the first thing I said, and a lot of this dichotomy between me and my mirror image just disappeared. It was pretty stunning experience
      So your question has a number of answers, many of them conjecture, because our relationships to ourselves in any mirror is always suspect – it’s an odd distortion, and no two people will have exactly the same effects from this distortion. In general though, I don’t believe it’s a good thing at all, which is why I now make optically perfect True Mirrors (  Thanks for your interest!

  5. Ralph Deloria says:

    Hello! Can I just ask, how the hell did you change your part? I mean as someone who right parts, is right handed and has a counterclockwise hair whorl and cowlick, how do I part on my left without it looking messy.

    Also, as a fairly handsome man who isn’t that bad with logic (good at math and science) should this really be a concern?

    • John Walter says:

      Hi Ralph,
      First off, my hair also will naturally part on the right (hence my discovery of the effect in the first place). I usually can train it to be a no part (which is better than left even), simply by putting some goop in my hair when wet to hold it. Its fairly short too. You might need to have your hair cut in the alternate style to have it at least be cut properly. but goop usually works. i like a small amount of Moroccan Argan Oil, seems to blend in pretty well and not feel like anything afterwards.

      Secondly, the right hair part can be a challenge for most guys, but if you are good looking it can be a lot easier. Its just that there’s a lot of place it still doesnt work – in the “playground of life”, where you might not get the respect you deserve, or the normal relations…there’s often something just a little bit off with a guy with a right part…no offense!

      • Ralph Deloria says:

        Thank you, hopefully with enough gunk I can switch/remove, although I’m debating whether or not this is necessary as I’m far from ugly (this is not intended as bragging and is taken from the opinions of others).

        May I also state that there are many successful, masculine and iconice men with right parts such as Clint Eastwood.

      • John Walter says:

        Experiment with it – if you can change it, then go out and gauge your response from everyday interactions (from both people you know and with strangers), just see if your interactions feel different. the theory says that they will be more productive and conducive in certain areas. then again, they may be less so in others. I remember one guy that i told this too seemed to lose some of his charm and uniqueness and looked more boring with it on the left. This is why i tend to advise to not part at all – let both sides of your nature come out and work with that result for the best productivity.

        Regardless, experiment with both and see what happens!

        And yes, there are many examples of famous, successful and masculine men with right hair parts. The explanation is that often they are exceptional characters, often handsome and tall or large, so they have a lot going for them regardless of their hair. Having the right hair part makes them softer and more accessible, and along with the other qualities makes for a winning combination. Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t have that kind of talent and looks, so the right hair part is more of a handicap.

  6. Rhodes says:

    This theory is complete and utter rubbish. It’s like the scientology of hair science. Good luck selling your $1,000 mirrors by taking advantage of peoples insecurities, Dr. Walter.

    • John Walter says:

      Dear Rhodes,
      I wouldn’t say complete and utter. There may be holes in the theory and exceptions you can find, but so many more times the theory is spot on. Its a bias on every interaction, but still not a necessary nor sufficient condition for any type or behavior. Yet it still has very high correlations where it does match. Its like body language…a position of crossed arms and legs is meant to be saying “I’m closed to your idea, or I’m protecting myself”, and often is, but could also be that it is simply more physically comfortable. The question is, can the theory provide illumination on behaviors, and would changing the hair part make a difference?

      RE the True Mirror, a lot of people see tremendous value in clearing up the distortion of the regular mirror, not just on physical appearance, but on personal communication that works better in it. For you, this is not important…so be it. Hair parts are quite different in the backwards mirror than forwards, so at least being able to see what you are projecting to others can be useful information.

  7. bikegeekus says:

    Interesting stuff. Since I’ve learned about this, I’ve decided to employ it for reasons that may be slightly paradoxical, but seem to be working for me. I am naturally a very masculine looking man. I have dark features and facial hair (which I keep in an almost perpetual “2-day designer scruff” look). I’m 6’2″ and about 190 lbs and hover between 9-12% body fat. I think these factors tend to give me a pretty aggressive, masculine impression according to what my wife and friends tell me. So, I’ve started using the atypical part as a way to signal that I do have a softer, sensitive side, can be a good collaborator and listener, etc. Seems to be working quite well, but could just be my perception. I feel like fewer people tune me out now as just a “typical white male” and instead are more likely to talk with me, listen to my opinions, work together, etc. Might all just be in my head, but something to think about for anyone who struggles with being pigeon-holed as a typical “hetero white male DB”, which can be quite a disadvantage in our current cultural environment.

    • John Walter says:

      I think thats exactly right – it does tend to soften up really big men, and if its in line with your personality and desires, i think that is great. I apologize to always be coming from the point of view that it is necessarily a negative, as your story indicates, theres a lot of positive there. We men in genearal could use a bunch of softening up. For me tho, that wasnt the case. At the time i switched from right to left then to center, i was probably about 5’7″ and 120 lbs. I was always being put down and pushed to the end of the line so to speak. When i moved to the left, i suddenly realized i could be macho and push my weight around (what little i had, its all about attitude anyway!), but without any pushback – it was accepted almost immediately. But in 4 months i lost track of who i was – was i the flashy guy with 4 parties to go to but nothing to say, or the deep and sensitive caring person that had 4 hours of math and physics homework every other night. Turns out i was both, which is why when i found the middle part i realized i could be and project both, or whatever was needed in the moment. much more fun. But i do appreciate your talking about your story – its both a good way to utilize the hair part theory in a positive way, even with a right hair part, and also helps to prove that there are effects we should know about.

  8. bikegeekus says:

    Also, note Henry Cavill’s part for Superman. Thoughts on why they’d do this for that character?

    • John Walter says:

      its interesting watching the evolution of hair parts for Superman.
      Most of the comics have him on the left.
      George Reeves was straight back, although once in a while i think its on the left. His Clark Kent usually had his hat tilted to the left, which is similar to the right hair part (opens the right brain, hides the left).
      Christopher Reeves famously switches hair parts from bumbling Clark Kent to Super Superman (
      For Smallville, he was always on the left.
      Brandon Routh kept the right part as Superman, and most people never liked that version
      The new superman seems like they are pumping him up on steroids, so maybe its the idea of super strength, but a nice and caring guy underneath that right part. the right side is also deeper – when i look at the posters, it appears hes trying to say how deep his convictions are. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in theaters

  9. Alex says:

    To give you an idea of who I am, my names Alex I’m a 23 year old italian white man with tan skin and dark brown (black) hair, I’m 6 feet tall and weigh about 190 lbs. So I used to part my hair on the right side because thats where my natural part is. I have wavy hair, and when I part my hair on the right side it flows more naturally with my hairs growth, making it less wavy (like don draper’s smooth hair.) About two years ago, a friend explained the hair part theory to me and I was shocked. As a result I switched to the left part. Unfortunately with the left part I find that there are two probelms. First, its very difficult for me to establish a straight, defined, clean part on the left side. Its much easier for me on the right side because this is just where my natural part is, it’s just genetics. Second, my hair doesnt flow smoothly when the part is on the left side, but instead emphasizes on the waviness making it difficult to tame. I’ve gone with this look for two years and I havent noticed a single difference in my daily life. I’ve become extremely observant of peoples hair parts, and the logic behind the theory since learning of it, but I just havent noticed any difference. I think its all just genetics to be honest, and while I find your theory interesting have you considered that a natural right hair part is just less common for men? I don’t know how to handle it. Many people say the theory isn’t backed by much data, and I’ve read up on it quite a bit and I kind of agree. A lot of people just view it as a way of selling your mirror. As much as I’d love to have one, spending $1,000 on a mirror is very far out of my limits as a 23 year old. I hope to hear back from you.

    • John Walter says:

      Hi Alex,
      Thanks for writing and telling us your story. One of the challenging things about this theory is that there are a lot of variables for how much it actually applies. For some people it’s a total no-brainer, especially when they are men with a right part that it really doesn’t look right and they would do well to change it. (Or a woman with a left part that never gets taken for being very feminine). The thing is, when it doesn’t look right, it’s not just an image thing – it feels like the person’s whole personality is tied up with it. Awkward, nerdy, strange – these are instant impressions that these men will make with almost everyone, and over time, they rather become that too.

      My personal experience was that I changed things dramatically when I flipped. But, I agree, the difficulty with the theory is that the same right part on a different man could actually look really good, and serve them well. However, I have found that its usually because the man is either or both tall and handsome, and the right part makes them more approachable and gentle (sound like you?). There is nothing wrong with the right side – in fact I love that part of all of us, men and women – it’s creative, it’s sensitive, it’s empathetic, it’s genuine etc., etc. The issue happens because the right hair part emphasizes that right brain energy all the time, and the left side doesn’t get much play. As guys, we need to be both to really do well in our new cultural norm. My preference is for no part, because then I can be whatever I want and my hair is not biasing every situation.

      Another caveat is that yes, it might look better on the right, just physically. I had a friend who seemed to look really boring when he switched to the left, where he had some sort of mystery with it on the right. But truth was, he was kind of boring anyway, and his hair part was putting something out that wasn’t real. Again, my belief is that no part or middle part at least lets you project to the world what is really there, and the world can respond to you in a more balanced way, and over time, you will become more balanced.

      I sincerely apologize that the True Mirror costs so much (only $200 though, not $1000). This is because I’m still only making less than a few hundred of these a year, one by one in my workshop – it’s not China mass production. It’s also incredibly precise instrument, using very expensive front surface mirrors, and often I have to redo them to make the seam come out right, or because a small chip in the glass is distracting.

      At any time, you can at least try to see what I do with the True Mirror by putting two mirrors at right angles to each other, and try to ignore the line in the middle and see your eyes. It is there that the magic lays, not just with the hair, but what you say with your face and eyes that communicates the essence of you to the world. Your eyes simple stop working as communication devices in a backwards mirror, and you are often reduced to just staring critically at your appearance, rather than celebrating that you probably are a handsome and happy young man. I would assume so, I certainly would be if I was 23 and in Italy!

      Keep on experimenting and let us know. You may also need a new haircut if you want to go straight back.


  10. Angela says:

    What does it mean when a woman parts her hair on opposite sides on a non-scheduled rotation?

    • John Walter says:

      One of the differences between the predictions of the hair part theory is that its not as strong for woman as it is for men. One reason is that women tend to flip quite frequently, so they are not so easily categorized. What we found is that many men used to keep their hair parted one way for their entire lives, so the distinct personality types emerge. Nowadays, most men don’t part anymore, more than half anyway, and there is more flexibility. I think it has led to men being much more in tune with their whole being, which has masculine and feminine parts. Women may or may not be very masculine, but they certainly are not clueless about that element, not like men have been about the feminine in the past. But in terms of your own personal use – think of it as strong body language that you can use when you need to. I like to say – use the left part when you need to be assertive in a business meeting, use a right part on a hot date. Or vice versa if you need to soften that business meeting or need some push back on the date!

  11. Jason says:

    My hair parts directly in the middle of my head naturally. I have been told this is irregular, although I don’t know why.

    • John Walter says:

      the Hair Part Theory talks about how having it on the left or right will emphasize that side at the expense of the other, leading to an imbalance in people’s perception of you and how you project yourself. The middle part is more balanced, as is no part or bald, and in my mind is a lot stronger – we are both sides of our natures, not just left sided or right sided, masculine/feminine, verbal/visual etc.

      I think the middle part is falling out of favor because its to obvious a statement. I know that sounds weird, especially since the statement is one of balance, but i think if you look at most people with the balanced hairstyle, it is either from being bald or having no part. Try no part if you can. it may be tough because of the way your hair is cut, but usually when it is wet you can style it straight back. And if it works, you may consider a shorter hairstyle. My personal favorite is to have my hair about 1-2 inches, but cut spiky in the top, since otherwise it looks to much like an overgrown buzz cut.

  12. J.J. says:

    Your theory is interesting for sure, great job on that, i enjoy reading it. I have one question though: I had a middle part, no part, a left side part and a right side part over the years, and i never noticed any difference in my life, my social life is exactly the same and people don’t look different at me, is it possible that the theory doesn’t apply to me?

    • John Walter says:

      yes, sure, the hair part theory is a story about bias and stereotyping that people make on us based on the hair side we part. There could be any number of reasons it doesnt fit as strongly for you as for others, such as you might have a strong personality that overrides the signal the hair shows. Noticing a difference might also be a function of you working it a little more, and the theory would say that if you wanted to be more assertive, a left part would make that easier, if you wanted to be more empathetic, the right part would make it easier. but obviously you can be assertive and empathetic at any time…the hair part theory mainly says that there will be a tendency towards type with one side vs the other. The other thing, women change hair styles a lot, and the hair part alone is not as strong a signal. Men typically stay on the same side their whole lives, which also increases the effects on personality. You didn’t state whether you are male or female, but the fact that you switched around has lessened the overall effect. Also, my personal opinion is that the middle or no part is better, so that all of you can be represented. Thanks for your comments!

      • J. J. says:

        Hi there, thanks for your reply, what you said makes sense.To make clear who i am, I’m a guy, i switched my hairstyle (and part) every year. I think you’re right about my personality, it’s fairly strong, so that might be a reason too. Also, i’ve always been quite populair on and outside high school and at work, so since i already was populair it doesn’t change a thing when i change my part.

  13. Boyce says:

    As someone who has never parted his hair, I am interested in trying out this experiment. Prying myself has always seemed like a way to try to “fit in.” After 30 years it looks odd and it took me a minute to figure out right from false right, but I’ll give this a shot.

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