Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Impressions: Judging by the face

Yesterday, I ate lunch at a new restaurant in Fayetteville. I had been to the restaurant's Little Rock location but not the one here. It was not good. My food was bland and burnt. I got to thinking about my friends who were with me who had never been to any location of this restaurant before. They had nothing to compare it with, so all they were left with was the first impression--burnt, bland food that took FOREVER to arrive. It's sad because the restaurant (in Little Rock) is delicious. I mean food you crave kind of delicious. But first impressions are important, and they are hard (if not impossible) to change.

Judging by the face: Less than a second is all it takes

So, I've been thinking about first impressions and decided to do a little reading. According to a couple Princeton psychologists, all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. Also, longer exposures don't significantly alter those impressions. So, whether we like it or not, judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others and how others treat us.

The article pointed out that psychologists have known for a long time that attractive people get better outcomes in practically all walks of life. It said, "People with 'mature' faces receive more severe judicial outcomes than 'baby-faced' people. And having a face that looks competent (as opposed to trustworthy or likable) may matter a lot in whether a person gets elected to public office."

I've always been a firm believer in trying to make the best first impression possible. You don't have to be perfect all the time, but you should care about your appearance because it does make a difference. But I also believe it will only get you so far.

OK. I'm getting off my soapbox. Thanks.

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