Scary thoughts

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, in any given session we
tend to anchor on the time slice image that makes us look our best.
That, we decide, is the "real" us.

Photographs, however, are a random sample of the various
arrangements of light, angle, and facial expression that we can be
found in. The median photograph of you is probably the best
approximation of your physical attractiveness. But that wars with your
self image, which is anchored on other, better combinations.

You’re also biased by the fact that no one ever tells you you’re
ugly. It’s not merely that people inflate what they tell you (they
almost certainly do); it’s also that people who think you’re ugly tend
to drop out of the sample. They may not cultivate an acquaintance with
you, and those that do will probably not spontaneously let you know
that they find you kind of repulsive.

You’re stuck in a web of congitive biases and a positive feedback loop.  It’s a wonder anyone does get married.

Here is the link.  This next part made me feel much, much better, though I can’t quite agree:

…the best gauge of how attractive you are; how attractive are the
hottest people who want to go out with you? They’re probably only
slightly more attractive than you are.

The final deflation then comes:

If you’re married, of course, this is not useful.


how attractive are the hottest people who want to go out with you?

Doesn't necessarily work for men over the age of 25 or so: sexist as it may sound, financial and emotional factors weigh heavy in women's evaluations of men.

people who think you're ugly tend to drop out of the sample.

That's just plain silly. *Anyone* past 20 or so -- anyone worth knowing -- will base friendship on factors more important than appearance. I have friends who are beautiful and friends who aren't. My friends have ugly friends: me, for one. I know you didn't mean to post such a shallow-seeming set of comments, but really... there's a lot missing from the above.

I don't know if this is true. It sounds tempting, but the reality is that we don't look at people at a single moment in time, and evolutionarily we're not evolved to look at still pictures. Perhaps how you look in video would be a more accurate proxy for how other people perceive you?

I also have a feeling that I find my friends more attractive than people I don't like, and I think this is not because they are objectively more attractive (whatever that means) but because of some complicated psychological process I don't understand by which people I like actually become more attractive. It would be quite difficult to test this hypothesis, though.

One very interesting fact, which is closely related to what Tyler cites, is that when we look in the morror we quickly adjust our face to look more (objectively) attractive. That is, not only do we fixate on the moment when we look the best, but by real-time feedback we actually make ourselves more attractive while looking in the mirror.

By the way, posting a picture on is a quick reality check as to how hot you are vs. how hot you think you are.

I think there is market waiting in evaluating how attractive you are, just as there is a market for appraising the value of your home.

Hot or Not is not a reliable website - the scores are inflated overall and there is too much of a tendency to judge females on how much skin they are showing in the photograph. Also, as this post indicates, people selectively submit photographs.

I think I would actually pay money to get an objective, detailed, quantitative evaluation of my attractiveness.

It would be completely useless to me (and maybe even harmful), but I'm curious like that. I'd wager that many others are too and that there could be real money in this.

You're also biased by the fact that no one ever tells you you're ugly.
Well, that piddle. Especially for younger people, who haven't found something else to base self-worth on, or those who are sensitive to remarks about appearance and thus get teased or brutalized using this topic.

No, most amateur photographs look worse than the person (victim) actually looks. The typical person doesn't have glowing red eyes, doesn't have a bright light shining them square in their face, doesn't go around with their face frozen in a hideous rictus, etc.

>You're stuck in a web of cognitive biases and a positive feedback loop.
>Go North
>I see no North here

I gave up on this sort of game a long time ago.

Every portrait photographer is an author of fiction.

"Back to the anecdotal, I have looks and charisma, but no charm. I've seen guys with mediocre looks, no real charisma, but they would have this kind of charm that just melted girls. They were often stupid too, but I don't know if I would go so far as to make a connection. Perhaps their simple mindedness came across as a good natured aloofness.

However it was, it always perplexed me during my single days."

I noticed that girls generally don't like assholes, maybe that helps your perplexion. Guys of course, don't care (if the girl is hot enough).

...the best gauge of how attractive you are; how attractive are the hottest people who want to go out with you? They're probably only slightly more attractive than you are.

I can't agree at all. It presupposes that the attractiveness space is one dimensional and that everyone has roughly the same preference ranking. Which is quite *obviously* ludicrous.

I suppose the "probably" means that some non-ludicrous model could lead to this statement. But I think the variation in preferences is large enough that for most people there probably exists at least one person who would be attracted to them, that would score much higher in some attempt at a universal hotness poll.

If I value some rare trait much more highly than most people, then I may be attracted to people who have that trait all out of proportion to their average attractiveness. I think there are enough such possible traits and people who value them, that the calculation of average attractiveness becomes very fuzzy and makes back inferences like the one stated much too weak to be useful.

People, people, just post a random sample of photos on and have done with it. People who don't know you will assign a rating to your visage based sheerly on their opinion of your looks (no psychological factors, no points for charm or a "great personality"). Take an average of those photo ratings and you've got a pretty good idea how you are viewed by others.

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