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Selfie-takers think they're cuter than they really are, study says

Technically Incorrect: The University of Toronto was desperate to find out whether selfie-taking affects one's self-image. It just might.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


I am beautiful, but I'll be more beautiful after this selfie.

The Richest/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

People take selfies because, well, that's what everyone does.

In many cases, the best of those selfies exist to be posted to Facebook or some other fine social form of communication.

The goal is to score points with your fellow humans, or even with friends.

But might those who take a lot of selfies lure themselves into believing they're a little more attractive than they really are?

Researchers at the University of Toronto thought they'd test this out.

Thinking of yourself more highly than others do is a phenomenon called "self-favoring bias." Or, in America, "self-esteem."

This phenomenon is at its starkest in situations where you are in control. When it comes to selfies, you're in control not only of the environment, but of the result. If you don't like it, you delete it.

So the researchers enticed prime selfie-taking subjects: college students. One hundred of them claimed to regularly snap pictures of themselves. Ninety-eight said they rarely, if ever took selfies.

Selfies were taken, as well as photos by objective experimenters. The selfie-takers were asked to judge their own attractiveness if the photos were to be posted on social media.

However, 178 independent human beings recruited on the Web were asked to judge as well. These independents were also asked which photos suggested the most narcissism.

Even those who rarely or never took selfies thought themselves more attractive than the independent observers found them to be. However, the regular selfie-takers not only vastly overrated their beauty, they also insisted that the pictures they'd taken themselves showed them in the most extreme pulchritude.

The independent observers thought differently. They thought the photos they took made the subject look more attractive than any of the selfies. It seems everyone thinks they're wonderful.

These independent recruits also had another observation: They thought the selfies taken by habitual selfie-takers showed more narcissism than the selfies taken by those who occasionally or never took selfies.

"We found that the selfie-takers perceived themselves as more attractive and likable in their selfies than in others' photos, but that non-selfie-takers viewed both photos similarly," the researchers said.

They also theorize that those who are in the habit of taking selfies think they're really good at it. Therefore, any selfie they take makes them look rather gorgeous.

It's an infinite loop. The more selfies you take, the more attractive you think you are. The more attractive you think you are, the more likes you get on Facebook.

But if you have an inflated sense of self, the less likely you are to settle for someone not worthy of your attractiveness in relationships.

That's when things get tough. You don't find anyone worthy of your beauty. You begin to weep.

And that's how psychologists make a lot of money.