Why We Don't Like Seeing Photographs of Ourselves

The psychological phenomenon known as the mere-exposure effect explains why we prefer the self-image we receive from the mirror each morning to a new and interesting camera angle. 

What's the Latest Development?

You know the feeling. You've been tagged in a Facebook photo, but that person with a contorted face only bares a passing a resemblance to the person you know from the bathroom mirror each morning. Photographer Duncan David believes that because mirrors generally tell us how we look, we feel a sense of rejection when a photograph doesn't conform to the self-image we've grown accustomed to. In fact, David's hunch is supported by a 1977 study in which people were shown to prefer self-portraits that conformed more to their mirror image than with their true image. 

What's the Big Idea?

So what is so special about the way we look at ourselves in the mirror? Nothing extraordinary, except that we've gotten use to how we look that way. Called the mere-exposure effect, people are known to develop a preference for a stimulus based solely on his or her repeated exposure to it. "Of course, the great thing about the mere-exposure effect is that it's an individual experience—and that's something you should take comfort in the next time you're lamenting over your slightly-off appearance in a photograph. The truth is, if photograph-you looked like mirror-image you, everyone else would think you look bizarre."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less