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Scanning force microscopy (SFM) has been used to perform nanoscale studies of the switching behavior of Pb(Zr, Ti)O3 thin films via the direct observation of their domain structures. The study revealed a significant asymmetry of a switching pattern which is a function of the voltage polarity and original domain structure of individual grains. The phenomenon of asymmetric switching is attributed (1) to the presence of an internal built-in electric field at the bottom interface and (2) to the mechanical stress exerted by the SFM tip. The former effect results in incomplete 180° switching, while the latter effect leads to a 90° rotation of the polarization vector. The resulting shear stress deformation of the grain underneath the tip combined with the applied field effect propels polarization reversal in the adjacent grains.