Mirror Your Eye Contact

When I look at the mirror I think, wow, I look pretty good. But then I take a picture and I am like, ug!

I have come to the conclusion that it lies with eye contact.

Eye contact is incredibly important to how we see and engage with other people. When you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, you always have 100% straight on eye contact with a face that is 100% intent on viewing you back. It’s total lock on.

If you ever meet someone and they stare at you with that same level of intensity you will feel like they are eye f’ing you harder than anyone ever has. You would feel like that person is completely obsessed with you!

But in a photo, it’s really hard to simulate that eye contact, because you’re looking at a camera. And, as I tried to get at above, just looking or focusing your eyes on something is different than eye contact, and is detectably different (your brain can tell the difference).

Eye contact is incredibly complex. We can establish a sense of eye contact from an incredible distance. At 50′, the amount of variation of a person’s pupil looking directly at your eyes or looking one foot away from you (i.e. eye contact or non-eye contact) ends up being one rods’ worth of fidelity (meaning the smallest thing an eye can detect, sort of one-retina-pixel so to speak). But you can feel the eye contact from that distance!

Point is, it’s an evolutionary miracle that we can detect eye contact as well as we can and it seems to happen in some combination of the optical sensors as well as within the visual processing center of the brain. And eye contact changes how you feel about an interaction. You can even tell two OTHER people are maintaining eye contact, which is an insane amount of math happening in real time in your brain.

So, summary: You look the same in the mirror as in pictures (well, a reversed picture). Your brain loves and is attracted to eye contact and you’ve never felt stronger eye contact than when looking in the mirror. So you brain tells you you’re more handsome in the mirror because it’s combining the image with eye contact goodness.

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