In a dream world people wouldn’t judge each other at all, but we do, and everyone does it – whether they are aware of doing it or not. The small choices you make when dressing in the morning, the scar on your forehead or the tattoo poking out the end of your sleeves – these are all noticed. Whether it is done consciously or subconsciously; a decision is being made about you. It is simply what makes us human.
All humans have first impressions. These are immediate associations that are recalled when we meet someone new. For example, the colour of their hair might remind us of a loved one’s hair or their perfume may be the same as an old teachers. These biases help us formulate an image that will contextualise the other person.
According to research by Readers Digest it takes just one tenth of a second to decide if someone is trustworthy or not. Princeton researchers took this research one step further with 245 university students. They found that it took 100 milliseconds to rate the attractiveness, like-ability, trustworthiness and competence of another person.
After judging the way a person looks, the second thing that people are judged on is their socioeconomic status. A Dutch study found that people wearing brand-name clothes were considered to have an immediately higher status than those wearing non branded clothes.
Other defining factors when meeting new people and creating that first impression were jewellery, the brand and material of a watch, the cologne or perfume, your haircut and your shoes.
A Professor at Loyola Marymount University also looked at first impressions during a study in 2007. He found that within the first few seconds of interaction an assumption on the intelligence of a person is formulated. The similar things that people judge others of socioeconomic standings also contribute to views of a person’s intelligence. Interestingly, factors such as height, weight and age can also affect a person’s assumption of another’s intelligence.
How can you overcome these first impressions? The only thing that is proven to make a large impact on assumed intellect is confidence. Professor Nora A Murphy found that looking someone directly in the eye on meeting them made a marked impact on another person’s view of a person’s intelligence.