FREUD. Durkheim. Levi-Strauss. Mead. Lorenz. Bettelheim. Spock. Skinner. And now the Walter siblings, of Manhattan, whose names may one day join these others on the edifice of self-understanding. John Walter, whose background is in physics and computer science, and Catherine Walter, whose background is in cultural anthropology, are the progenitors of the Hair Part Theory, an exploration of psycho-behavioral dynamics to which a friend recently drew my attention. The Hair Part Theory states,
The way a person parts [his or her] 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.
The underlying premise of the Hair Part Theory is that parting one's hair on the left calls subliminal attention to left-hemisphere brain processes -- associated with logic, verbal acuity, and "activities traditionally attributed to masculinity in our culture" -- and tends to be regarded as natural for men. Similarly, parting one's hair on the right evokes right-hemisphere processes -- associated with visual, artistic, and musical skills, and "nonlinear tasks traditionally attributed to femininity in our culture" -- and tends to be regarded as natural for women.
I don't intend to get drawn into a debate on differences between the sexes; the Hair Part Theory has to do with cultural perceptions, not biological realities. The Walters' point is merely that the "wrong" hair part can play against type, sometimes in a way that proves subtly advantageous but more often in a way that creates vague discomfort in onlookers and may lead to being shunned. Being shunned, in turn, may reinforce eccentricity and other abnormal behavior.