Zoom n’ Doom — a.k.a. I’m sick of my face

So, mirrors are bad?

I had a suspicion that my tiny, constant face was having a big impact.

Experimenting

I was curious to find out to what extent ‘mirror view’ could be changing how we communicate and how we think about ourselves. I asked Caterina if there was anything I should bear in mind when investigating:

  1. How we believe others see us
  • I am concerned about what other people think of my appearance
  • It bothers me if I know that someone is judging my physical shape
  • I worry that people will find fault with the way I look
  • When I meet new people, I wonder what they think of my appearance
  • I am afraid other people will notice my physical flaws
  • I think that other people’s opinions on my appearance are too important to me
  • Typically, I am satisfied with my conversations on video calls
  • Typically, I am fully focused on the conversation
  • Typically, I feel relaxed during video calls
  • Typically, the other participant(s) express a lot of interest in what I have to say
  • Typically, I express a lot of interest in what the other participant(s) have to say
  • I am aware of my face when other people are talking
  • I’m aware of my face when I’m talking
  • I consciously modify or control my facial expressions
  • Typically, I feel that during conversations I present myself as I want the other participant(s) to see me

Some encouraging results

Based on our small group, we found that after our week of no mirror view:

  • Fear of Negative Appearance Evaluation decreased from pre-test to post test by 2.25 mean points. A decreased score indicates that we feel less anxiety about being judged on our appearance.
  • Conversation quality increased from pre-test to post-test by 2 mean points. An increased score indicates an improvement in the quality of our conversations.
  • Self-conscious presentation decreased by 3.25 mean points. This indicates that we are less likely to be consciously moderating our own presentation.

Was it worthwhile?

From my point of view, absolutely. Since the experiment, I’ve actually been continuing to turn off the mirror view whenever I can. I’ve felt much less self-conscious, and much more focused on the conversations I’ve been having as a result.

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