PDF version - Full Theory:
The Hair Part Theory: Full Theory
What Is Your Hair Part Saying About You?
The Effects of Hair Parting on Social Appraisal and Personal Development
By John Walter and Catherine Walter
Twenty years ago, John Walter changed his hair part from the right side to the left side and saw his world of interpersonal relationships change drastically for the better. Curious about this phenomenon, Mr. Walter and his sister Catherine Walter have spent many years observing men and women’s hair part choices and associated personality traits. They are now ready to share The Hair Part Theory with the general public so that people can be aware of the subconscious signals that they are projecting with the way they part their hair. Mr. Walter is a computer expert with his training in nuclear physics and mathematics (BA, SUNY Oswego), and Ms. Walter is trained in cultural anthropology (BA, SUNY Geneseo). Mr. Walter is also the designer and producer of the True Mirror®, the only mirror that doesn’t reverse your image, and which therefore shows you how you look to others, allowing you to gain an accurate sense of your true self.
Hair in itself, the abundance or lack of, and the quality of it, is a highly prominent source of self and social evaluation, in both present day and historic world cultures. It can be a source of pride or shame and billions of dollars a year are spent today on hair care. While hair qualities of length, color and style have been consistently noted in the past, the surprisingly strong effect of hair part choices on immediate social appraisal has been completely unexplored until now.
The Hair Part Theory states: The way a person parts their hair is related to many subconscious associations when assessed by others. Each hair part type initiates cycles of behavior toward, and response from, the individual. Over time, these cycles affect personality development, perpetuating a system of cumulative and interactional continuity. Parting the hair on the left or right initiates, in viewers of the individual, subconscious associations with the aspects of cognition generally ascribed to the same cranial hemisphere that is accented by the hair part (i.e. left part, left hemisphere). When there is a center part, no part or baldness, the subconscious associations are more balanced or neutral, with neither cranial hemisphere’s activities given more importance in the assessment.
When a person puts a part in their hair, left or right, they are emphasizing the left or right cranial hemisphere functioning. Currently accepted knowledge of cranial hemisphere functioning is that the left hemisphere specializes in language, memories of words, math, logic, linear operations and activities traditionally attributed to masculinity in our culture. The right hemisphere specializes in visual processing, memories of pictures, musical perception and nonlinear tasks traditionally attributed to femininity in our culture. It is also believed that men’s brains function more asymmetrically than women’s brains and are more likely to use highly specific areas for different tasks, whereas women’s right and left hemispheres function more in conjunction with each other.
It is important to note that the correlation between hair parts and personal characteristics is not a necessary or sufficient one -- there are many influences on the character of a person. However, hair parts can play a significant role and this theory describes strong tendencies of an individual to develop specific personality traits in reaction to unconscious societal response to personal hair part choices.
The Hair Part Theory will enable individuals to become aware of the messages they could be projecting with their choice of hair part. The characteristics associated with each type of hair part for each gender are as follows:
Men W/Left Part: Natural for men, usually works well for them. Perceived as popular, successful, strong, traditional. Can be out of touch with the feminine side of themselves. Examples: John Wayne, Tom Brokaw, John F. Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy
Women W/Left Part: Usually ok, especially for women interested in making it in business and politics. Perceived as intelligent, in-charge, reliable. Can sometimes be perceived as too "masculine", and/or can create difficulties with fulfilling traditionally feminine roles. Examples: Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Christine Todd Whitman
Men W/Right Part: Usually unnatural for men. Can create an uncomfortable image; can cause social shunning, sometimes leading to unusual or eccentric behavior. Perceived as atypical, open, radical. Can work ok if the man is very confident, attractive, or striving to be respected in a non-traditional male role. Examples: Al Gore, Rush Limbaugh, Robert F. Kennedy, Charlie Rose, Tom Snyder
Women W/Right Part: Natural for women. Usually works ok. Perceived as very feminine, gentle, caring. Can cause problems of not being taken seriously. Examples: Martha Stewart, Jane Pauley, Betsy McCaughey Ross, Geraldine Ferraro
Men + Women W/No Part, Natural for men and women. Perceived as balanced, trustworthy and wise. Can lack the flair associated with
Center Part or Bald: the other types. Examples: U.S. Presidents 1-9, Joseph P. Kennedy II, Sean Connery
Most of the possible choices generally do not negatively affect perceptions of the individual, but the individuals who are potentially put in the worst position are men who part their hair on the right andwho are also striving to be assessed positively within a traditional male role. Our observations have shown that the right part on a man might interfere with positive social interaction and personal development, and might lead to highly atypical behavior, occupations and preoccupations. We focus in this article on these right-parting men because they seem to exhibit the most consistent correlations and also because they could benefit the most from this information.
A highly illustrative place to observe hair parting and perceived personal attributes is in film and television characters. Consistently, directors, casting agents and hair stylists appear to be choosing a left or a right part for characters that exhibit the characteristics identified with the left and right sides of the brain, and a center part, no hair part or baldness for those characters who have balanced personalities. Perhaps these decision-makers in the media are simply a little more aware or more intuitive than most people are of appearance choices and immediate character appraisal. However, the reasons for the choices have never been publicly articulated, and are likely made unconsciously. The types of characters that most frequently have right hair parts in film and television are those portraying scholarly/scientific men (highly focused experts, not socially apt), gay men ("femaleness", openness), men as single parents (acting as both father and mother), villains (untrustworthy, evil) and mentally disturbed characters (isolated, shunned).
The most striking example and perhaps the most illustrative of The Hair Part Theory, is that when Christopher Reeve played Clark Kent, his hair was parted on the right. As Superman, his hair was parted on the left.
Choices made in hair parts can for some people lead to difficulties in interpersonal relations. The Hair Part Theory may help those who are being subtly and sub-consciously undermined by a choice in hair part that they might believe is entirely inconsequential, that is probably arbitrary, and that may be unchanged for their entire life. Most women switch hair parts frequently during their lives and therefore the cumulative effects of hair parting on the personality are not as pervasive for women as for men, who typically keep their hair parted the same way from childhood throughout their whole lives.
Since many people’s hair falls naturally to one side or the other, those who wish to change might need to use gel and training of the hair. In doing so, they can begin to receive different immediate appraisals from others, thereby improving their control over how they are perceived by others. (Parting the hair on the left or right side may be linked to whether the person is right handed or left handed, since it may be physically easier to part the hair on the side of the head that is opposite to the dominant hand. However left or right handedness is not relevant to immediate appraisal of an individual).
Why the hair part should be a relevant factor in the appraisal of a person and his or her inner personality is illustrated by the fact that once a child becomes self-aware, his or her perception of self, subsequent behavior and social persona depend largely on two factors. The first is based on how others react to the self, from first impressions to knowledge over time. First impressions are made by rapid interpretation of facial features, body type, hair, clothing, posture, expression, scent, attitude and behavior, and are frequently difficult to alter. The hair part contributes strongly to this first impression, which can then cause specific behavior towards an individual. Over time, especially during childhood development years, this can affect self-perception and projected personality traits, and can result in cycles of behavior and response.
The other factor in an individual’s self perception is what is perceived when looking in a mirror. All traditional mirrors give incorrect information, since all mirrors, except for a True Mirror®, show a reversed image (think of how writing is backwards in a mirror). A hair part always appears on the opposite side in a traditional mirror – i.e. a right part will be perceived as a left part in a traditional mirror and vice versa, leading to self-perception that is incorrect as to what signals are being sent with the hair part. [In addition, looking into a traditional mirror is also the only time that an individual can physically experience direct right-eye to right-eye and left-eye to left-eye communication. A True Mirror® gives the viewer right-eye to left-eye and left-eye to right-eye communication with oneself in the accurate biological pattern for gaining information about another, as well as giving correct perception of hair part choices and what they are projecting. The effect that self-viewing in a traditional mirror, in contrast to self-viewing with a True Mirror®, has on neurological pathways for obtaining self-information, as well as its effect on the sense of self, remains unexplored by psychologists.]
When the person parts their hair on the side that is not culturally associated with their gender – i.e. men with right parts and women with left parts, it appears to be generally acceptable for women, but it can have deleterious results for men.
Mr. Walter’s experience, when his social standing was surprisingly "fixed" simply by changing his hair part from right to left, can now be tested by all right-parting men, and hair part choices for men and women can now be made for specific and instrumental reasons. With knowledge of The Hair Part Theory, individuals will be able to change their hair part to help receive the appraisal that they are seeking. For example, a woman walking into a business meeting might prefer to part her hair on the left, whereas for attending a social event she might prefer her hair part on the right. (An interesting point to note is that it seems that quite frequently a person’s significant other has the opposite hair part choice, perhaps illustrating a balance of attributes between the two). When right-parting men change their hair part to the center or to the left, or style their hair so that there is no part, they often immediately begin to see a positive change in the way people respond to him. This, over time, can become a pattern of behavior and response that can help the man become more internally comfortable and self-assured. Therefore, he frequently becomes better at interpersonal relationships which increases his chances of success in his chosen endeavors, and a new, more positive cycle of behavior and response is initiated.
Men in American society are traditionally expected to be non-emotional, confident, rational, dependable, powerful, masculine, logical, independent and capable. However, the right-parting male is emphasizing his right cranial hemisphere activities, sending a conflicting message of more traditionally feminine characteristics. If he is an individual striving for respect as an artist, a writer, a priest, a therapist, etc., the right part does help him to be accepted by others. If not, and also if the right-parting man is not an extremely confident or attractive person, according to our observations most people’s first response is most times unsure and many times negative. Social response that is not overtly approving can negatively affect the man’s perception of his personal power, which can increase his insecurities and which can then initiate a negative cycle of behavior and response. This cycle is oftentimes continuous from childhood, which can lead to the personality being affected.
The observations made by Mr. Walter and Ms. Walter involving The Hair Part Theory have shown that most men who are right-parters are strongly atypical in some way. They usually display one or more of these following personality traits, singly or in different combinations from both of the following lists.
Men who haven’t overcome the potentially negative influence of the right hair part usually display one or more of the following potentially negatively perceived characteristics (many of the non-famous right-parters):
Men who are enormously confident and/or handsome and who have overcome the potentially negative influence of the right hair part usually portray one or more of the following positive characteristics (most of the famous right-parters):
Within most groupings by category of famous men (see Appendix), the number of men who part their hair on the right is roughly 10%-17%. However, in the general population (although no formal study has been done), from observing high school yearbooks from the past, the number of right-parting men historically appears to be even lower, approximately 5%. Therefore, in comparison to all men who end up becoming famous, a much higher percentage of all right-parters become famous or high achievers. This is due to the tendency for many right-parting males to strive excessively in order to overcome the possibly lifelong negative social responses. It also appears that there is a rising percentage of right-parting men in the years since the end of the Vietnam War, due to increasing social acceptance for men to explore and express the more emotional, "feminine" aspects of their personality.
The following examples of famous right-parting men are useful to illustrate certain aspects of The Hair Part Theory because these men are well known by many and their public character is known. The more conclusive and meaningful examples that demonstrate the potentially negative influence of the right hair part on men are the ordinary, non-famous right-parting men that one sees everyday and that one knows.
This is an aspect of personal appearance choices that we find fascinating and hope you will too. To illustrate The Hair Part Theory by example, attached is an appendix listing the hair part choices of current and historical government officials with percentages given of each group. To further illustrate the unusual characteristics of right-parting men, there is a list of famous public individuals in our past and present who parted or who part their hair on the right. There is also a chart showing previous press coverage of the True Mirror®.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Please call if you have any questions about The Hair Part Theory or about the True Mirror®.
John Walter/Catherine Walter