Search icon


27th Aug 2023

People don’t actually know what they really look like, professor claims

By Joseph Loftus

‘Who even are you?’

Who are we? What are we doing here? What is our purpose? Is there any at all? These are the questions which have plagued mankind for millenia, but now a professor has claimed that us meagre human beings might not even know what we really look like at all.

In our current age, much of our days are spent taking selfies, uploading TikToks, sharing to Instagram; so you’d figure we probably have a very good idea of what we look like. In fact, you’d expect we now know almost every single minuet detail of our faces entirely, but apparently not.

And don’t just take my word for it, take Professor Nicholas Epley’s.

Professor Epley co-authored a study into how people see themselves and amazingly found that “people recognise their own faces as being more physically attractive than they actually are”. Damn.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Epley said: “The interesting thing is that people don’t really know what they look like. The image you have of yourself in your mind is not quite the same as what actually exists.”

The study in question took photos of certain people and made variations of them in which they were made more or less attractive by 10 percent at a time.

When researchers asked people to pick which image they thought was the true image of themselves, they typically pointed to the picture which was ten percent more attractive than the reality.

The study concluded: “Participants were more likely to recognise an attractively enhanced version of their own face out of a line-up as their own, and they identified an attractively enhanced version of their face more quickly in a line-up 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.”

Professor Epley added that people aren’t completely delusional about their own appearence, just that they’re not “perfect at recognising it”.

Well, that’s my day ruined.