The lighter side of advertising: Investigating posing and lighting biases

Nicole A. Thomas, Jennifer A. Burkitt, Regan E. Patrick, Lorin J. Elias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


People tend to display the left cheek when posing for a portrait; however, this effect does not appear to generalise to advertising. The amount of body visible in the image and the sex of the poser might also contribute to the posing bias. Portraits also exhibit lateral lighting biases, with most images being lit from the left. This effect might also be present in advertisements. A total of 2801 full-page advertisements were sampled and coded for posing direction, lighting direction, sex of model, and amount of body showing. Images of females showed an overall leftward posing bias, but the biases in males depended on the amount of body visible. Males demonstrated rightward posing biases for head-only images. Overall, images tended to be lit from the top left corner. The two factors of posing and lighting biases appear to influence one another. Leftward-lit images had more leftward poses than rightward, while the opposite occurred for rightward-lit images. Collectively, these results demonstrate that the posing biases in advertisements are dependent on the amount of body showing in the image, and that biases in lighting direction interact with these posing biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-513
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Asymmetry
  • Lighting
  • Posing bias
  • Print advertising
  • Right hemisphere

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