Selfie Takers Overestimate Their Attractiveness--Study Finds

Ayush Adhikari

With the evolution of smart phones, taking self photos has reached a whole new level. As many as 93 million selfies are taken each day. But a new study has shown that people who regularly photograph themselves tend to overestimate their attractiveness and often exaggerate their likability. They are also seen as more narcissistic by independent observers when compared with non-selfie-takers.

Researchers point out that selfie takers are often the victim of a psychological condition called "self favoring bias." The condition is characterized by any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self-esteem, or the tendency to perceive oneself in an overly favorable manner.

Individuals suffering from self favoring bias have a tendency to attribute success to their own abilities and efforts, but ascribe failure to external factors.

To assess the degree by which self favoring bias is affected by selfie taking, a team of psychologists led by Daniel Re, of the University of Toronto, conducted an experiment with 198 college students. Fully 100 of them admitted they took selfies regularly, while 98 reported little to no selfie taking. Study participants were asked to take photographs of themselves with a smartphone camera, and they also had their pictures taken by an experimenter.

Both groups, the habitual selfie-takers and non-selfie-takers, showed signs of self-favoring bias by thinking that they would be seen as more attractive and more likeable in their photos than they were actually seen by the independent raters. But the case with habitual selfie takers was worse; they overestimated themselves to a larger degree, assuming that their self-taken photos would have been more attractive than the experimenter-taken photos.

When independent raters were asked to rate the photos of participants, the selifes of both groups were rated as less attractive than the experimenter taken photos. In addition to the contradiction, the raters also thought the selfie-takers looked significantly more narcissistic than the non-selfie-takers on the basis of their selfies.

The researchers went on to conclude that, when selfie taking becomes a habit, people are more likely to develop self favoring bias, which causes them to overestimate the attractiveness of their photos to a greater and greater extent over time.

They also suggested that this effect may occur because selfie-takers develop their own idea of their flattering photos, and photographs taken by other people do not quite fit the bill. They also added that positive feedback in the form of likes, favorites, and shares on social media reinforces an inflated sense of self.

The report also concluded that, although people participating in the selfie trend within social media may not exhibit any greater narcissism than those who abstain from selfie-taking, but other people may perceive them this way. Their liability may therefore be one of misperception, not of character.

[Photo By Pixabay]