Selfies: Love them or hate them, here's why we've all taken them

A neuroscientist at University College London believes he knows what makes a good selfie.

Scroll through Facebook or any similar service and you'll likely come across one social connection who has posted many images of himself or herself making slightly different facial expressions. These images are called selfies - and, apparently, there is a scientific reason behind why we take them.

A recently-held panel discussion among leading academics and artists investigated questions around self-portraiture and personal identity. It was joined by James Kilner, a senior lecturer in human motor neurosciences at University College London, who asked why people are so interested in taking selfies.

According to BBC News, the answer - presumably based on data from the panel discussion - is connected to the theory that people cannot read their own facial expressions successfully. People have spent years reading and recognising faces and facial expressions, but they're no experts at looking at their own faces.

This lack of experience means people have an inaccurate representation of what they look like. BBC News explained that a single demonstration proved people could not recreate their own facial expression when shown a photograph of themselves, for instance.

In addition, when asked to pick out photographs that looked most like themselves - from a series of manipulated photographs - the people were "very bad" at selecting their original photographs. In fact, they "systematically" selected images that were digitally altered to appear more attractive.

If you've ever taken a selfie, you are well aware that it entails a front-facing camera and you. Plus 159 photographs, at least. That's because people typically snap a dozen or more selfies before they find the perfect shot that makes them look young, attractive, etc.

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In other words, for the first time in history, people are now able to take an beautiful image that mirrors what they perceive themselves to look like. And that, at its very core, is the science behind selfies.



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