People ‘subconsciously centre Instagram selfies on their left eye’

Why selfies usually focus on our left eye: Asymmetry in the brain makes people’s right side less dominant in most Instagram photos, study claims

  • Researchers discovered that people tend to centre their eyes to the left in selfies
  • The phenomenon is similar to one that also sees painters and artists centre eyes 
  • Study suggests alignment is because our eyes provide information on our mood

People tend to subconsciously centre their Instagram selfies on their left eye, a study has revealed.

Researchers from City, University of London, the University of Parma, and the University of Liverpool analysed around 3,500 Instagram selfies as part of the study.

They observed that, when taking a selfie, people tended to centre their eyes, with particular focus on the left. 

This reflects of a phenomenon observed in healthy brains known as pseudoneglect, in which spatial attention tends to be unconsciously shifted to the left. 

The study also suggests that the alignment is because our eyes provide information on what we are paying attention to and centre left is the best way to inform people about our mood. 

Several high profile celebrities, including Megan Barton Hanson, Drake, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Sophie Turner and Miley Cyrus have taken selfies with their left eye close to the centre

Previous research also suggests that the left eye is more commonly centred than the right because people prefer showing their left cheek. 

The phenomenon is similar to painters who apply an eye-centering principle in portraits. 

The study used a publicly available selfie database of photos uploaded to Instagram from in Bangkok, Berlin, London, Moscow, New York City, and São Paulo.

Most of the photos studied were posted on social media spontaneously. 

Out of a total of 3,556 selfies, they found 1,931 (54 per cent) had the subject’s left eye in the horizontal centre of the picture.

In comparison, 1,625 (46 per cent) had the right eye in the centre. Although the difference was small the researchers said it was significant. 

Several high profile celebrities, including Drake, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus also appear to be following the phenomenon, through several Instagram selfies.  

The study said that the trend is a reflection of a phenomenon observed in neurologically healthy people known as pseudoneglect, where spatial attention tends to be shifted to the left. Pictured is an example of the centre-left selfie phenomenon

Professor Christopher Tyler, Professor of Optometry and Visual Sciences at City, University of London was a collaborator in the study.

He said: ‘The core result of this study was to replicate my earlier finding that painters tend to centre one eye in portraits, throughout the centuries, in a modern version of which the selfie takers are simultaneously both the artists and the subjects of the portrait.

‘This centring tendency opposes the alternative possibility of placing the symmetric face symmetrically in the frame, which would avoid leaving the non-centred eye ”out in the cold”. 

‘These results are important for understanding the perceptual principles in operation as these diverse “portraitists” choose the framing and composition of their pictures.

The study suggests the alignment is because our eyes provide information on what we are paying attention to and we see the position of our left eye as the best way of conveying our mood (Pictured: Anonymous individuals from, which the researchers used)

‘The tendency to centre a feature of particular interest in the frame presumably derives from the fact that we humans have a single focal region of high resolution in the centre of our retinas, the fovea, providing a natural point of attraction for this largely unsuspected tendency in composing the portrait.’

The study did not include photos with multiple people in the shot, or those taken with pets or dolls. 

It also separated standard selfies, taken at arm’s length with a phone or similar device, from mirror selfies.   

However, the same eye-centering phenomenon was observed in standard and mirror selfies. 

In pseudoneglect, the scientists explained, people automatically tend towards the left when trying to judge where something is.

If asked, for example, to locate the middle of a horizontal line on a blank sheet of paper, people will most often place it slightly to the left of the true centre. 


Instagram in April launched a ‘Data Download’ tool. It lets Instagram users download a copy of all the content they’ve uploaded on the platform. 

That includes data such as photos, videos, Stories, profile info, comments and messages. 

To access the Data Download feature, open the Instagram website on your desktop browser.

From there, navigate to your profile, then click on the gear icon and select ‘Privacy and Security’.

Scroll down the Privacy and Security page until you get to the ‘Data Download’ section and click on ‘Request Download’.

Until now, Instagram has lacked a data portability tool and users don’t have the option of saving their photos after they’ve already been posted to the app

Instagram them prompts you to enter an email address in order to access all your data.

The firm noted that it may take up to 48 hours for it to send a download link. 

Until now, Instagram has lacked a data portability tool and users don’t have the option of saving their photos after they’ve already been posted to the app.

That’s despite Facebook introducing a similar feature, called the Download Your Information tool, in 2010.

Importantly, the tool lets users control the data they’ve uploaded to the platform, but not necessarily all the data Instagram has collected on them.

Thus far, users have been forced to use potentially unsecure or scammy third-party apps to download their data from Instagram, via apps like Instaport.  

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