In April, Dove Real Beauty campaign launched a saccharine video campaign that indicated that women have low self-confidence and downplay their own beauty. Strangers who described women they had just met to forensic sketch artists described "prettier" versions than the ones described by women talking about themselves. The video concludes: “You are more beautiful than you think.” But actually, it turns out, we have no idea what we really look like.
Psychological research from the University of Chicago and University of Virginia reveals that we think tend to think we are better looking than we actually are. Researchers showed participants a series of photographs of themselves, including some that had been modified to either make the participant "more attractive and less attractive." When asked to pick out the unmodified photograph, the subjects dove for the "attractively enhanced" version. They were also quicker to recognize the more attractive version as themselves.
Also disproving Dove's Real Beauty unscientific study, strangers are harsher (or more realistic) than the subjects. When strangers who had met the participants three weeks earlier in a sneakily "unrelated study" were shown the series of photographs, they selected the original version of the participant.
In the Scientific American article, Ozgun Atasoy intelligently points out that we have adapted to think well of ourselves:
"Why do we have positively enhanced self-views? The adaptive nature of self-enhancement might be the answer. Conveying the information that one has desirable characteristics is beneficial in a social environment… Self-enhancement also boosts confidence. Researchers have shown that confidence plays a role in determining whom people choose as leaders and romantic partners... Thinking we are more beautiful than we really are may not be such a bad thing."
So keep up that unwarranted confidence, ladies and gentleman. It's good for all of us.