New Hair Parting Survey

radiolabRadioLab just re-aired the great episode about Symmetry which included the Hair Part Theory and the True Mirror (, and also just put out great new survey up about hair parts. Take the survey, and also read the comments!

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Tide and Dad Star “The Princess Dress”

One of the most useful uses of the Hair Part Theory is to both create commercials and/or explain their effectivness. The latest one is the charming Dad explaining about how is daughter will not wear anything other than her Princess Dress, even though it will get stained and dirty.

It’s a classic “new man” commercial, where the Dad is the one being the caretaker, nurturer and laundry do-er. So in the 30 seconds it takes to establish both the premise and message, they use a handsome right hair parting man to show an empathetic, kind, understanding (and domesticated) man.  The right part makes it easy for the judgement to be quickly made by the viewer that it makes sense.

Now, look how he looks flipped, with a left hair part…not so sensitive, wouldn’t you say? tidecommercial_rev

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Lincoln – right or left?

One of the surprising elements of the feature about the Hair Part Theory done on the NPR Radiolab show (, was that a big picture of Lincoln was shown to the live audience and then flipped to show him with a right hair part. There was a collective gasp from the audience because it was so different! On their website, you can try the flip by clicking on the Lincoln picture.   To put the gasp in context, the live show actually pushed it onto a 20 foot high screen, which really made an impact.

Turns out, when we were first researching whether Lincoln parted on the right or left, the data  can be very confusing. The original photographic record was done with daguerreotypes, which print a reversed image by default. History books will tend to flip it back, just to get the image right. The clue as to which is correct is that Lincoln had a little bump on his right cheek, and this certifies that he wore his hair parted on the left.

However, one of the most popular pictures of Lincoln appears on the 5 dollar bill, which as you can see below, shows Lincoln with a right part.  This was a true image, as you can see by the bump on his right cheek.  Turns out, the day of that picture turned to an engraving, the stylist put his hair on the other side for some reason


Here is a picture of the real Lincoln actually – its quite different, and your initial assessment of his character and strength are modified as well.


Check this out: his punk looking Lincoln with no hair part – can you imagine?

lincoln_no part

Here is the story from Time magazine:

Also, here are the same images flipped:  Check your initial assessment of his character and strength and likability with the hair on the opposite side.  also, notice that with a no hair part, the difference isn’t so strong, as well as your assesment




lincoln_no part_rev

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Classic Left Part on Men

When men part their hari on the left, its a classic look for them, and leads to classic male personalites.  Its a look that has a lot of history, and is the powerful look of the man who is running things in a typical male fashion.

To start, look at the TV series Mad Men

classic look, classic behavior, and fits our image of what this era was like


John Wayne – does it get any more archetypical?john wayne

Tom Brokaw ( compare to Ted Koppel, Dan Rather, both right parters)



more coming soon

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Miller Light Man Up Commercial

This set of commercials gets men doing “unmanly” things, like wearing a skirt, or skinny jeans.   This one below has a guy getting beads at Mardi Gras by exposing his chest – much like women do…and he’s kind of clueless overall.  They use a good looking guy with a right hair part to emphasize the point

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Superman’s Hair Part through the years

The first time I saw the first Superman Movie (with Christopher Reeve), I almost fell out of my seat – the film director or someone in makeup decided to switch his hair part from right to left when going from weak and bumbling Clark Kent, to strong and perfect Superman.

Now it turns out that the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, keeps superman’s hair on the right, which according to the Hair Part Theory isnt as strong and will probably lead to a more feeling and thoughtful Superman. The plot summaries I have seen so far have to do with struggle with ultimate questions like “what is my destiny”…not exactly typical Superman. May make interesting drama, but audiences will want to see the Super part of Superman, and the right part makes that harder.

The last big Superman movie, Superman Returns, with Brandon Routh also had this same right hair part, and while the movie did ok commercially and critically, the franchise sort of died out after that one. It also was noted that the movie “isn’t about a savior returning to Earth to protect us from evil (sound familiar?). No, this Superman film has as much to do with romance and self-discovery as it does with combating evil. There’s a lot of heart and soul in the story of Superman Returns, and the hero feels real pain and isolation in being the only one of his kind in existence.” ( ). So the same kind of theme as the new Man of Steel movie.

Other roles typically have Clark Kent and Superman both with left parts, and only the glasses and maybe a hat forming the disguise. I wonder how no one figured it out that Clark was Superman?

here are pictures of the Superman through the ages.

Man of Steel:


Clark Kent – right part



Superman keeps right part



smallville clark kent

Clark Kent with left part


Superman Returns

clark kent brandon routh


Clark Kent and Superman both with right parts (Brandon Routh)


Superman Movies (1-4)


Clark Kent, right part, Superman Left part (Christopher Reeve)


Superman TV Series

clark kent george reeves2clark kent george reeves

Clark Kent – mostly straight back or slightly left (but does he wear the hat to the right?)  George Reeves

superman reeves

superman reeves3

Superman has left part or straight back  (George Reeves)


Superman in the comics

clark kent comics

Clark Kent, left part

superman Comic2Superman Comic

Most comic book Supermen have a left part

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Subway Commercial Do You Want to be my Boyfriend

great example of a right parting man getting taken advantage of…this Subway commerrcial is followed this year with a new version and pretty much the same result for the poor guy!

here is the full link:


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