Epley and Whitchurch, 2008
When people are shown a full array of photos of themselves, from 50 percent more attractive to 50 percent less attractive, they choose the 20 percent better-looking photo as the one they like most and think they most resemble. This is an important , general result: self-deception is bounded – 30 percent better looking is implausible, while 10 percent better fails to gain the full advantage. Robert Trivers, The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life, 2011.
After reading Robert Trivers’ book on self-deception, I now understand why so many people dislike photos of themselves. People’s image of themselves differs from reality. That is, they perceive themselves to be more attractive than they actually are. Consequently, when faced with reality, they don’t like what they see.
Keep this fact in mind the next time you see photos of yourself. It’s not always the photographer’s fault.
For the original study on morphing photos into attractive an unattractive versions, see Epley, N.; Whitchurch, E. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Enhancement in Self-Recognition,” PSPB 2008, 34, 1159-1170.