A room full of mirrors is a fun way to spend an afternoon. But if you’re not careful, you might end up with a headache.
“The problem is that when you look at yourself in a mirror, there are lots of things that can go wrong,” says Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychology professor at the University of New Mexico. “You can’t see yourself from all angles and distances at once, for one thing.”
For instance, if you’re standing straight ahead and facing a mirror, your nose will be farther away from your eyes than it appears — so it looks bigger than it really is. The same goes for your ears.
You also don’t see yourself from below (unless you’re lying down), so the bottom half of your face tends to look smaller than it should be compared with the top half (hence why some people think they have big chins). Your brain has no way to know this unless someone tells you — or unless they show you another picture of yourself where these distortions are corrected.
These kinds of distortions are called size-distance errors because they involve objects appearing larger or smaller than they actually are due to distance between them and your eyesight. But there are other types as well:
Last modified: October 26, 2022