NEW YORK – We’ve all heard the truism, “You only make one first impression.” It’s true — and these impressions may be more powerful than we would imagine.
Our brains to calculate powerful impressions that are often as accurate as the impressions we form over longer periods of time.
Research has shown that we can make first impressions in just fractions of a second, and not just from meeting in-person. We make fairly accurate first impressions based on simply looking at Facebook photos.
Here’s what you need to know about first impressions — and how to make a good one.
They happen incredibly quickly.
A 2006 Princeton University study found that it takes just one-tenth of a second to make judgments about a person based on their facial appearance. Judgments — on measures of attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and aggressiveness — made within this span of time were not significantly different than those made without time constraints. In fact, confidence for some judgments actually decreased with greater exposure time.
The researchers found that attractiveness and trustworthiness are the qualities we judge most quickly.
And they’re very difficult to change.
First impressions are so powerful that they can trump even undeniable fact and prior knowledge, research has found. A recent study found that making quick first impressions is a natural cognitive response, these sort of snap judgments can, of course, lead to stereotyping.
A number of factors play into our first impressions.
When it comes to job interviews or important introductions, the way you dress and the firmness of your handshake could make a big difference in the first impression you make. A 2009 study found that both clothing style and posture played a role in initial perceptions, while another study found that handshake strength also affected first impressions. A weak handshake can create the impression of passivity, researchers found — so make sure you have a firm grip.
The tone and tenor of your voice also plays a significant role in determining what kind of first impression you make on others.
To make a good first impression, do it in person.
A series of University of British Columbia studies found that first impressions are formed differently in person versus online or by video. The research found passive video-based impressions were overwhelmingly more negative than impressions made based on meeting in-person. Another study found that first impressions made based on Facebook photos were as accurate as in-person impressions, but they tended to be substantially more negative.
There’s one trait we particularly value when it comes to first impressions.
We value trustworthiness over confidence when creating impressions, creating more positive impressions of those we believe to be trustworthy. And this judgment accounts for a large portion of the impression we form,