Why do people mirror videos

Why are selfies mirrored?

Not all selfies are created equal

When we photograph a house or the landscape with our mobile phone, the display shows the landscape as we see it. But when we take a selfie of ourselves, we see ourselves mirror-inverted - just like when we look in a mirror. It is also the case with most video conference tools: We don't see ourselves as others see us, but as if we look in the mirror.

But when we click the shutter release on the selfie, different things happen depending on the phone manufacturer. With Android phones, the photo is saved by default in the same way as we took it - in other words, the other way around. With iPhones, the photo is mirrored again so that we see each other the right way round - that is, as the others see us.

Two reasons for mirrored selfies

But why do we get the reflection shown? The main reason is: It is more familiar to us than our "real" picture. While brushing our teeth, getting dressed, combing our hair - we always see each other in mirror image. With mirrors, that's in the nature of things - with mobile phones it's also advantageous because it is less confusing when I move: If I want to change my head position, brush a strand from my face or pick leftovers from the corner of my mouth, it's easier when I see myself in the mirror.

On iPhones, the selfie is, so to speak, anti-glare again after taking it. This has the advantage that you actually look like others normally see you in the picture. Lettering is also right around and not mirrored.

The disadvantage is that you look a little different in the picture than you saw yourself. Because our face is always a bit asymmetrical and we never look straight in the mirror, but always a little sideways. That's why we have a favorite site of ours. But if the iPhone now reflects the selfie back again, then where we expect our favorite side is the rather unfamiliar side of our face. To prevent this effect, the selfies on Android phones simply remain mirrored.

Mere exposure effect

Incidentally, the one with the favorite page was scientifically researched almost 50 years ago. Back then, researchers at the University of Wisconsin printed out a true-to-original portrait and a mirrored portrait of test subjects. They then showed that to the test subjects and people who were close to the test subjects, e.g. relatives. It turned out that the test subjects liked the mirrored portrait best and the relatives the true-to-original photo.

The psychological phenomenon behind this is called the “mere exposure effect”. In German: "Effect of the frequency of presentation". According to this, the frequent presentation of a stimulus is sufficient for this stimulus to be assessed more positively later. Because we see ourselves in the mirror most often, we rate our reflection more positively than our actual appearance.

Manually mirror selfies

If you like to take photos of yourself with books in hand or often wear items of clothing with lettering, you may not want to have a mirrored selfie of yourself because you cannot read the lettering. With an Android mobile phone, you can therefore also use anti-reflective coating on the selfies: In the camera settings of your smartphone there is the menu item "Mirror image". If you deactivate it, you can send your book selfie in future so that your friends can read the title.

The text and audio of this post are licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons license.

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