We are not as attractive as we think we are


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.

About Mark Mizen

At Creative Memories, I evaluate photographic products and related materials so that today's memories are not lost to the future and then communicate this information to Creative Memories Consultants and their customers. My interests extend from preservation of traditional photographs to the production of photo books to the expected longevity of electronic image files. My long-term objective is to direct the development of technology that meets consumers needs for high-quality products.
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