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Does your face really make a difference? What is it?

Look at my profile picture now.
What if I did have one?
Does my picture affect how you respond to me?
Does it affect how seriously you take me?
Can my anonymity generate any real respect?
Does it help put more emphasis on what I say?
If I had a picture now, would you judge me by it?
Would you take me as insincere?
Is it the way you smile?
Is it where you are that tells me who you are?

Tell me your thoughts. Is it that much of a waste to just wonder?

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    Jan 14 2012: We are genetically inclined to find symmetrical faces beautiful and subconsciously treat them likewise. Damn biology. :)
    • Jan 15 2012: Brittney,

      Any idea why it is that way?

      Is it just easier (and therefore preferable) for our brains to interpret a symmetrical image, or is it something more nuanced than that? Perhaps it fulfills a metaphysical need (if you think this way) of balance?

      Your thoughts?

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        Jan 16 2012: Your conjecture is part of the reason, in Paul Bloom's book, How Pleasure Works he goes in depth about why we as people prefer such faces and that even babies prefer symmetrical faces. Another one of his conclusions is that symmetrical faces indicate health and youth which is what we seek in mates perhaps as another facet of natural selection, because things like poor nutrition, parasites, and the ravages of time will eat away at our symmetry and thus be less attractive.
        • Jan 16 2012: Brittney,

          Bloom is hardly exhaustive on the topic. I actually found his analysis of 'averageness' to be more applicable to my line of questioning. On page 66, he states,

          "...average faces are in a literal sense easy on the eyes; they require less visual processing than non-average faces."

          I wish he would have gone into the particular neural activity associated with 'visual processing'. Do we prefer the composite because our 'visual processing' is similar to the process which produces composites? For example, when you think of your mother, do you see a reproduction of a single moment, or a composite of many images of her you have seen?

          Regardless, it is funny we prefer the composite to an actual face. I suppose it ties in to his idea that we prefer imagination to reality.


          Back to symmetry - have you read anything else on the topic?

          With a face we are obviously talking about vertical symmetry, but we are surely fascinated by other types as well, no? And can a face actually be perfectly symmetrical? Or are we (obviously) only talking about approximation? If that is the case then the actual happenings within our 'visual processing' are once again of the utmost import, and Bloom left us hanging on the subject (at least in the forty or so pages I have skimmed through).

  • Jan 14 2012: I feel that most of us tend to judge one another on our appearances and where were from. It's just human nature I'm sure. I think if you had a silly looking picture one may not take you serious etc. Anonymity does generate more respect. One cannot judge one they cannot see. Our face really does make a differance. Smile or no smile. Like i noted: It's just human nature. It iz never a waste to wonder/ponder .
    • Jan 15 2012: Really? I was actually thinking the opposite. I thought maybe anonymity couldn't generate much respect.
  • Jan 15 2012: Mohammad,

    When you think of your friends or family, how many of them do you use their face as your mental icon of them?

    For me it is about half. Others are identified through smell, sound, diferent ideas they have espoused, locations, etc.

    Half is statistically significant, so as a mental icon, I think face is important.

    You do not have a picture now. Would you feel comfortable putting up a picture that was not of you, but that people would reasonably assume is you? I would not. I plan to load a picture soon, but the choice is between MY anonymity or MY face. So as a part of my identity, I feel that the face is important.

    You do not reveal your face online, but would you hide it in public? Would you carry on a conversation at the coffee shop with a bag over your head? Probably not. Because it is the facial expressions and body language which give true meaning to words in an intimate conversation. So as a means of communication, I feel the face us important.

    To summarize - yes your face matters. That is why you have one.

  • Jan 15 2012: I think the significance of one's appearance or whatsoever that is revealed outside and easily recognized by other people is limited in its nature. It certainly has a power of driving people to judge you in a certain way, whether it is positive or negative. However, such kind of hasty judgement on an individual is quite susceptible to be changed by your character graudally revealed, your words, philosophy, thoughts, and any other more in-depth characters you will show to a person. Anyway, I would say appearance is still improtant and is something that is valuable enough to spend some time and money to manage, but would say at the same time that it is not the everything at all.
  • Jan 15 2012: Good thoughts everybody. But I think it would be better if we didn't limit our thoughts to my questions above. What if we broaden it all a little bit?

    Profile pictures are a bit like masks don't you agree? Because even if you show your face, no one can ever really know who you are because it's just one angle of your face, more so, its just a bit of who you are. You're still wearing a mask in the end.

    Yes, human biology/nature does make everybody like the symmetry. And nobody can control the things we are born with (except God[if you believe in him]). It's like a good name you know, you live up to it, good. If not, then you try your best to.

    But what if, biology/nature aside, a lot of people learned to treat everybody equally? Would your face/mask still matter?
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    Jan 14 2012: Your profile picture now is boring. I see the pictures as simply making it all a little more interesting as we ponder all these heady subjects.
  • Jan 14 2012: My answer is pretty much a 'no' to all of them. But then again, I don't have a picture either
    • Jan 14 2012: ha-ha. funny.
    • Jan 14 2012: Agree. Having no picture makes others feel curious about him.
      You know, adding no picture can be a part of the way you express yourself to others.
      So, why should we need to judge him whether he shows his picture or not?
      it totally depends on yourself.

      Btw,I'm also wondering whether I should remove my picture or not.
      It's getting boring to have this picture.
      • Jan 15 2012: Nah, it's fine. But that's because it's the first time I've seen it.
        Maybe to others who have known you long, it'll also look boring.
        See? It's not really your face but it's how fresh your pic looks to me.

        It's also the color of the dog. It may or may not suggest that, like me, you also prefer two-color themes over rainbows and other colorful schemes.
        But I don't know anything and I'm not judging you. :D.