What does your Instagram filter say about you?

23 November 2017

Instagram filters and Snapchat lenses have become a part of our everyday lives, and it’s easy to assume they improve your appearance to others. However, neuroscience has revealed that human minds, especially among women, have an inherent bias against modified selfies.

London-based creative studio Saddington Baynes used the latest in neuroscience to find out how gender impacts on emotional response to Instagram filters and Snapchat lenses on profile imagery.

Using implicit testing that gauges a viewer’s nonconscious response to imagery, Saddington Baynes tested 10 variations of the same profile picture – an untouched version; three Instagram filter versions; three Snapchat ‘lens’ versions; and three retouched in Photoshop. 

The results revealed that all of the adjusted variants caused some reduction in nonconscious emotional response, and that this result was more emphasised in women than in men.

Filters – the final verdict

Saddington Baynes tested 10 filters on one image of a young male: the raw, untouched image; Instagram’s Valencia, Clarendon and Nashville filters; Snapchat’s glow, black & white and gold lenses; and three in-house colour grades, labeled Duo, DJ and BW. These images were tested against five emotional attributes: ‘Natural’, ‘Trusted’, ‘Attractive’, ‘Stylish’, and ‘Emotional Pull’.

Overall, filters reduced the participants’ attraction to an image, but negative results were greatly increased in females compared to male participants.

James Digby-Jones , ECD  at Saddington Baynescomments: “Neuroscience is capable of telling us things we may not even know about ourselves – it digs below the conscious surface. At Saddington Baynes, we turn this ability towards optimising creative imagery, and the findings are always interesting. In this case, if you’re looking to put up a new profile picture on LinkedIn or Facebook, filters may not be the way to go.

Neuroscience testing methodology

Saddington Baynes gathered its findings using the neuroscience service Engagement Insights®, developed in partnership with NeuroStrata. Engagement Insights® is a “neurocreativity” service, designed to deliver implicit, nonconscious feedback on creative decision making.

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