Recent Study Associates Selfie Angles with Perceived Thinness

by Santiago Fernandez
7 comments
Selfies and Body Image

Recent studies demonstrate that selfies make women’s bodies appear slimmer when compared to photographs taken from alternative viewpoints. This could have detrimental effects on individuals predisposed to eating disorders. The research indicates that both the angle of the photo and the physique of the viewer may contribute to these perceptions.

Links were also identified between how bodies are evaluated in photos and disordered eating patterns among viewers.

In the latest study, observers generally deemed women’s physiques to be more slender in selfies than in pictures captured from other viewpoints. The research, conducted by Ruth Knight of York St John University, UK, and Catherine Preston of the University of York, UK, has been recently published in the academic journal PLOS ONE.

Perception of Body Image through Selfies

Selfies, a ubiquitous feature on social media, are self-portraits where the individual holds the camera at a distance but points it back at themselves. Previous studies have suggested that viewing selfies can influence the observer’s assessment of the subject’s attractiveness and may also lead to self-comparisons that could affect satisfaction with one’s own physical appearance. However, most prior research has been limited to facial perception rather than body image.

Research Approach

To provide fresh insights, Knight and her team evaluated how female participants judged photos of 10 female volunteers dressed in athletic wear, taken from various angles.

Excluding faces, each volunteer was photographed from multiple perspectives: a conventional external angle, an arm’s-length selfie, a selfie stick-assisted shot, and a perspective from the subject’s viewpoint looking down from the chin. The study participants also filled out a questionnaire assessing the extent of their disordered eating thoughts and behaviors.

Findings and Consequences

Through analysis of four separate experiments, the researchers noted that observers were more inclined to view bodies in selfie photographs as slimmer compared to those in images taken from external perspectives. However, there was no significant variance in ratings of attractiveness. Photographs taken from the chin-down angle were considered to be less slim and the least attractive among all angles examined.

Furthermore, there was evidence suggesting that individuals with higher levels of certain disordered eating symptoms tended to view bodies in selfies more favorably. Based on this and previous research, the study suggests that selfie viewing could potentially be more harmful to those susceptible to eating disorders compared to other forms of photographs.

Limitations of the Study and Future Prospects

Although the study reveals important connections between social media usage and body satisfaction, the researchers acknowledge multiple limitations, including a small sample size and imprecise matching of photo angles among the volunteers, which could have impacted the outcomes.

Subsequent research could enrich current understanding by exploring how different photographic angles affect perceptions of various body types, or how a viewer’s own weight-to-height ratio could influence their judgements of photographs.

In their conclusion, the authors state: “As we encounter selfies on an increasing number of social media platforms daily, it is important to understand that filters can alter body appearance. This study implies that even the angle of the photograph can influence our assessments of body size, indicating that what we see online may not necessarily be a true reflection of reality.”

Reference: “Do selfies make women look slimmer? The effect of viewing angle on aesthetic and weight judgments of women’s bodies” by Ruth Knight and Catherine Preston, published on 11 October 2023 in PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0291987

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Selfies and Body Image

What is the main finding of the recent study on selfies and body image?

The main finding is that women’s bodies are generally perceived as slimmer in selfies compared to photographs taken from other angles.

Who conducted this research and where was it published?

The research was conducted by Ruth Knight of York St John University, UK, and Catherine Preston of the University of York, UK. The study was published in the academic journal PLOS ONE.

What implications does the study have for people prone to eating disorders?

The study suggests that viewing selfies could be more damaging to individuals who are vulnerable to developing eating disorders. It found links between how bodies are evaluated in photos and disordered eating patterns among viewers.

What methodology was used in the study?

Female participants were shown photos of 10 volunteer models dressed in athletic wear, taken from various angles. These included conventional external angles, arm’s-length selfies, and selfies taken with a selfie stick. The faces were excluded from the images, and the participants filled out a questionnaire assessing their disordered eating thoughts and behaviors.

Were there any limitations to the study?

Yes, the researchers noted several limitations, including a small sample size and the lack of precise matching of photo angles among volunteer models, which could have influenced the outcomes.

What are the future directions for this research?

Future research could delve deeper into how different photographic angles affect perceptions of various body types, or how a viewer’s own weight-to-height ratio might influence their judgments of photographs.

What do the authors conclude about the everyday consumption of selfies?

The authors conclude that the angle from which a photo is taken can influence judgments about body size. They caution that images seen online, even simple, unfiltered selfies, may not be an accurate representation of reality.

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7 comments

Mike_D October 14, 2023 - 4:24 pm

interesting read. Seems like social media is not just fun and games, it can actually mess with your self-esteem. gotta be careful i guess.

Reply
Rebecca Simmons October 14, 2023 - 4:46 pm

Wait, so selfies can actually make people think they look slimmer? Thats kinda scary especially if youre prone to eating disorders.

Reply
Nina L October 14, 2023 - 10:01 pm

Why are we only talking about women here? Guys also face body image issues. would be interesting to see a study that includes men.

Reply
Jenny Q October 14, 2023 - 10:14 pm

This is exactly why I take breaks from social media. you never know what’s affecting you subconsciously. It’s better to stay grounded in reality sometimes.

Reply
Sarah J October 14, 2023 - 10:59 pm

Wow, this is eye-opening. Never realized how selfies could have such a big impact on how we see our bodies. Makes you think twice about what you see online, huh?

Reply
Alan K October 14, 2023 - 10:59 pm

The study’s limitations make me question its findings a bit, but still a topic worth exploring more. Who knew angles could make such a difference?

Reply
Tom Williams October 15, 2023 - 4:48 am

Did they say how many people were in the study? Cuz if its a small sample size, I wouldn’t put much stock in the results.

Reply

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