Do we see ourselves as more attractive than we are?

People’s inferences about their own traits and abilities are often enhancing. A series of experiments suggests that this enhancement extends to more automatic and perceptual judgments as well, such that people recognize their own faces as being more physically attractive than they actually are. In each experiment, participants’ faces were made more or less attractive using a morphing procedure. Participants were more likely to recognize an attractively enhanced version of their own face out of a lineup as their own, and they identified an attractively enhanced version of their face more quickly in a lineup of distracter faces. This enhancement bias occurred for both one’s own face and a friend’s face but not for a relative stranger’s face. Such enhancement was correlated with implicit measures of self-worth but not with explicit measures, consistent with this variety of enhancement being a relatively automatic rather than deliberative process.

Source: “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Enhancement in Self-Recognition” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 9, 1159-1170 (2008)

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