In search of the digital facelift

Unsurprisingly, a large body of research shows that viewing idealised or retouched images adds to the dissatisfaction that many people already feel towards their body. Research by Kristen Harrison, a media psychologist at the University of Michigan, shows that even disclosing that celebrity and advertising images are retouched makes many of us feel worse about ourselves. Becoming more aware of what others edit may heighten our awareness of our own supposed flaws. That may encourage us to spend longer using digital tools to repair them. And once you start it’s hard to stop. I felt better about posting my first FaceTuned photo than I would have if I hadn’t edited it. And since we’re more inclined to post images of ourselves that we like, says Harrison, “it’s self-sustaining because you want to do it again and again and again.” Beauty is attainable for all. Just don’t expect it to be more than a pixel deep. 

Amy Odell writing in 1843 magazine 

The Phone Trade-Off

Smartphone photography isn’t making us dumber. It’s shifting the way our minds work, refocusing our attention.

Alixandra Barasch is a cognitive scientist at NYU. In her work, she finds that, yes, incessant smartphone camera use can lead to lapses in memory. But, more importantly, she finds a wrinkle: Cameras can also focus our attention to enhance memory.

She’s run similar studies to the one at Stanford, where participants either take photos or don’t take photos while on a museum tour. When instructed to take photos of an exhibit, her participants were more likely to remember visual aspects of their experience (the art and artifacts they saw) than if they didn’t take photos. But there’s a trade-off: The participants snapping photos were less likely to remember information they heard.

Brian Resnick writing in Vox