Advertising
Advertising

Science Explains How First Impressions Work (And Ways To Improve If You Failed)

Science Explains How First Impressions Work (And Ways To Improve If You Failed)

Whether you look at it in the context of your career, personal life, or dating, first impressions are incredibly important. They set the stage for how people perceive you, which generally translates into how much leverage you’re able to obtain in a given situation. And while first impressions are certainly interesting, do you know what science says about these important social exchanges? Let’s take a look.

Experts Call It “Thin Slicing”

The human brain’s ability to reach conclusions based on just a momentary exposure to someone is known by experts as “thin slicing.”

“Thin-slicing is not an exotic gift. It is a central part of what it means to be human,” writes Malcolm Gladwell, author and journalist. “We thin-slice whenever we meet a new person or have to make sense of something quickly or encounter a novel situation.”

Advertising

Thin slicing is not something that we consciously think about or choose to do. It’s something that’s built into the very fabric of being human.

“We thin-slice because we have to,” Gladwell continues, “and we come to rely on that ability because there are lots of situations where careful attention to the details of a very thin slice, even for no more than a second or two, can tell us an awful lot.”

Trustworthiness Is Determined In One-Tenth Of A Second

According to research, people judge your trustworthiness within a tenth of a second. This conclusion was reached by a group of Princeton researchers who gave a group of students 100 milliseconds to rate different factors – such as competence, attractiveness, and trustworthiness – based on images of actors’ faces.

Advertising

After rating these factors, another group was given as much time as they needed to determine these traits. While other traits differed significantly, the time it took to determine trustworthiness essentially remained the same. In other words, at the very moment you meet someone – before you even open your mouth to speak or extend a hand to shake – people are making judgments about your trustworthiness.

The Handshake Says A Lot

A handshake goes a long way in establishing a positive first impression, especially in business settings. The reason is that a handshake makes you seem more approachable. There’s something about this safe display of human affection that allows you to connect with the other person.

“Many of our social interactions may go wrong for [one] reason or another, and a simple handshake preceding them can give us a boost and attenuate the negative impact of possible misunderstandings,” says Sanda Dolcos, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois’ psychology department.

Advertising

Changing A First Impression Is Hard, Yet Possible

Recent research suggests that while it’s very challenging to do so, it is possible to change or alter a first impression. Here’s how that works.

Let’s say you meet a woman named Sarah at a business event. When you meet Sarah, she seems cold, rude, and standoffish. The next time you see Sarah, your brain will actually register these initial conclusions. But what happens if this time Sarah is warm, kind, and engaging? Well, your brain will still register the first impression, but will instead lead you to the conclusion that, “Sarah is always rude, except when you run into her after work.”

In other words, your first impression of Sarah being rude will stick with you, but your brain will begin to add exceptions to this fact. Over time, it’s possible to add enough exceptions that the first impression is drowned out, but it takes a lot of work.

Advertising

Fashion Influences View Of Success

According to multiple studies, what you wear directly impacts how people view your success, or lack thereof. A 2011 study shows that well-dressed men are perceived as making more money and climbing the corporate ladder quicker than those who lack proper style. Furthermore, a separate study shows that those who don tailored suits, as opposed to standard off-the-rack suits, are perceived as being smarter and more successful.

Make Your First Impression Count

As you can see, science has a lot to say about first impressions. The human brain is wired in such a way that judgments are made in just a fraction of a second. Keep these tips in mind and you may be able to influence how others see you.

More by this author

Schuyler Richardson

Content Writer

Science Explains How First Impressions Work (And Ways To Improve If You Failed) 5 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Jump Start Your Freelance Writing Career 8 CEOs Reveal Which Daily Habits Drive Success 4 Entrepreneurial Lessons You Can Learn From Michael Jordan 7 Powerful Habits Of Insanely Creative People

Trending in Science

1Science Says Screaming Is Good For You 2Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Make It Work 3Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home 4Science Says Piano Players’ Brains Are Very Different From Everybody Else’s 5This Is Why You Should Sleep on Your Left Side (Backed by Science)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 21, 2018

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

Advertising

How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

Advertising

  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

Advertising

  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

Advertising

Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

Read Next