First Impression is not Always Right
The society is sometimes obsessed with labelling. This is the tendency to rely on first impressions to judge someone else’s character, nature, and suitability to one’s needs. The first impression is glorified as the accurate representation of an individual. It is in our deeply entrenched in our culture to place a lot of pressure on first impressions. Some people claim that first impressions are even more significant than facts. Therefore, people have formed a habit of forming impressions of others at first sight and tending to stick with what they saw as undisputed truth or reality about the person of interest. However, questions are asked on the accuracy of first impressions. There are also further questions on how right the first impressions are. People may choose to project or conceal some aspects of their personality for various reasons. This makes it difficult for someone else to judge correctly about their personality. Sometimes, first impressions can speak more through the individual’s actions than words. However, the majority of the time, the first impression is not always right or accurate. Furthermore, there is not a single person who can be grouped in a specific category as first impressions tend to do.
If there are ever real events that prove that first impressions are not always right they have to be those cases involving con artists. Con artists are known to perfect the how they project their initial impression on vulnerable victims. According to Holtz (501), the first impressions are often based on simple cues with facial features and dressing playing a huge role in how people make quick judgments. Some of the history’s most infamous con artists have been studied to make the conclusion that facial features and dressing do manipulate acquaintances into making the quick judgment associated with being approachable and trustworthy. For example, con artist Charles Ponzi was a notorious Italian criminal who swindled investors’ monies worth an estimated $7 million in the 1990s (Forgas 137). This is a criminal who posed as a well-dressed and confident person to gain the trust and approval of unfortunate investors. People who were interviewed by various researchers often described the scam artist as first appearing “honest” and “trustworthy” before they turned to be deceitful. Their dressing and facial features were noted to project an endearing stance that manipulated people’s first impressions. This confirms that it is not right to view any person as being one-dimensional. Hess et al. (111) states that people are multifaceted given that different situations can stimulate different aspects of a person. First impressions should, therefore, be used as glimpses into what a person looks like. They should not be used as representatives of an otherwise multifaceted person. Furthermore, serial killers, psychopaths, and narcissists have often fooled different people into thinking they are trustworthy.
First impressions are open to conformation bias. Wood (420) states that “people
have a cognitive bias that leads them to misinterpret new information as supporting previously held hypotheses.” This means that when a human being adopts an opinion, they tend to draw upon everything else to agree with it. And even when the observed facts are present, the human mind tends to neglect it in the pursuit of self-justification. First impressions are subject to confirmation bias which occurs when a person misinterprets ambiguous fact as confirming their hypotheses. However, a person who suffers from this bias often comes to believe in hypotheses that mostly wrong. Studies have proven that when such a person is provided with adequate information, there is no guarantee that it will overcome the bias. This is how strong the first impression is in real time. This means that over time a person may come to believe with almost unwavering certainty in the wrong hypothesis. Therefore, first impressions are not always right.
People have learned to withhold some critical information and provide what they think represents them better. It has been shown that the first encounters are strong and influential in determining the impression of another person. This is moment when an individual determines whether a stranger fits in what they expect. Cafaro et al. (2) cite that “it is not surprising that individuals attempt to manage the impressions that others form of them.” In turn, not every person divulges who they are within the first moments of encounter. According to Mann, Thomas, and Ferguson (26), individuals are extremely particular today of what they share with other people. Some people are paranoid about letting others interact with their lives. This is a trend that does affect the initial judgment that an acquaintance will make of the other person. Some conservative people will ensure that they hold as much as they can before they let other people into their lives. This means that a quick judgment can be wrong. In addition, studies have shown that if the next person is not similar to what one may consider normal, there is often a higher chance to judge wrongly. From this perspective, impressions are not always right.
The first impression, up to a certain extent, may be accurate, and up to another, it may be prone to misperception. However, researchers have consistently shown that the first impression lacks the aspect of conclusion due to the prevalence for generalization. First impressions have gaps that make information of a person inaccurate in its entire form. This is because the society has been keen to embrace stereotypes and bias when viewing some individuals. Despite how close a first impression may be to accuracy, the aspect of bias and stereotypes preconceives certain ideas that make it not right at long last.
First impressions are significant, and they usually have a considerable amount of information about the other person. Funder (180) states that over 80% of what are seen during the first encounter can be used with a higher level of confidence to represent the personality of the person of interest. It is noted that even within a few seconds of meeting a stranger, it is able to pick up with a higher level of accuracy a variety of information such as attitudes, political views, and even sexual orientation. This proves that first impressions do not necessarily have to be wrong.
First impressions have always been used in our society to form preconceived ideas about other people. The question has always been how accurate these ideas are. Study reports largely show that the first impression is strong and can almost stand in for facts. However, it is crucial to note that people are often subject to confirmation bias, stereotyping, and withdrawing critical information. These are periods when first impressions end up not being accurate. Therefore, it can be said that first impressions are not always right.Notes
- Cafaro, Angelo, et al. “First impressions: users’ judgments of virtual agents’ personali andinterpersonal attitude in first encounters.” International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2012.
- Forgas, Joseph P. “Why do highly visible people appear more important?: Affect mediates visual fluency effects in impression formation.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 58 (2015): 136-141.
- Funder, David C. “Accurate personality judgment.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 21.3 (2012): 177-182.
- Hess, Brian J., et al. “Blink or think: can further reflection improve initial diagnostic impressions?” Academic Medicine 90.1 (2015): 112-118.
- Holtz, Brian C. “From first impression to fairness perception: Investigating the impact of initial trustworthiness beliefs.” Personnel Psychology 68.3 (2015): 499-546.
- Mann, Thomas C., and Melissa J. Ferguson. “Can we undo our first impressions? The role of reinterpretation in reversing implicit evaluations.” (2015).
- Wood, Timothy J. “Exploring the role of first impressions in rater-based assessments.” Advances in Health Sciences Education 19.3 (2014): 409-427.