The Science Behind Why We Take Selfies
Arguably one of the greatest photographic trends of our time, the selfie has transformed self-observation to a whole new level. So why are we so fascinated in taking a selfie and sharing it with others? How does observing and seeing a picture of yourself differ from seeing an image of someone else around you?
In everyday life, we spend a lot of time in social situations where we interpret and look at other people’s facial expressions and faces. It is known that correctly reading and responding to the other people’s expressions is an essential and vital part of completing a successful social interaction. Throughout our lifetime we eventually become the expert at interpreting and recognizing the faces of other people and their facial expressions. In retrospect though we have very little experience of viewing and studying our own facial expressions.
Our own facial expression perception draws from the sense of feeling the movement of our faces. Because we lack the visual knowledge about our faces, we often have an inaccurate representation of the look of our face during any time of the day. Demonstrations done of people have shown that when they are shown an image of their expression and are asked to mimic it, they tend to have problems with accurately producing the same expression on their face without the ability to see themselves.
Not having the knowledge of what we truly look like gives a fascinating effect on what exactly we think we look like. Studies have found that when people are asked to pick a specific photo that represents what they look like from altered photos and the real photo, they can’t select correctly and most always choose an altered version where they seemed more attractive. This is unsurprising though as we are already subjected to poor representation of what we think we look like. The selfie obsession may be explained because of this, as for the first time we can continuously take a photo of ourselves until we are able to produce images of what we think our perception of ourselves should look like in our everyday life.