How Accurate are First Impressions? Here's What the Latest Research Says

It turns the first opinions we have about a person are usually right

Let’s face it—we’re all “guilty” of making snap judgments about others. One comment, one expression, or just a vibe and most of us tend to have already formed an opinion about a person we only know—or have only looked at—for a few seconds.

Well, according to two recent studies, most of us have difficulty in letting go of our first impressions. But it turns out our opinions are usually right on target.

Psychologists at Cornell University showed a group of study volunteers a picture of an individual and asked for their take on the person. Then more than a month later, the volunteers came face-to-face with the person in the photo—and their original assumptions were reportedly “surprisingly accurate.”

In a different experiment that took place at the University of Toronto, psychologists displayed photos of people and labeled them as either trustworthy or untrustworthy. While the majority of the participants remembered the bad eggs more than the good ones, their findings indicated that each time we come in contact with people, our original judgment surfaces.

"Their face is a constant reminder to us of that initial impression,” said Nicholas Rule, study author and psychologist of the University of Toronto, as reported by Live Science. And while people may alter their opinions in time, first impressions “remain very important and seem not to fade.”

In another test, Rule and his colleagues asked participants to look at a person’s face and guess their sexual orientation. And on average, they guessed correctly about 65 percent of the time.

Both of these studies were presented last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Austin, Texas. So is science actually telling us to judge a book by its cover? A more acceptable way of saying it is to go with your gut…until proven otherwise.

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