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The Power of First Impressions

In: Business and Management

Submitted By nightlightsrfun
Words 765
Pages 4
First impressions strike us quickly and come from a two areas of the brain. The amygdala controls and moderates our motivations, allowing us to navigate our social world. (Starr, 2013) The posterior cingular cortex (PCC) is the seat of autobiographical memory, attention and emotional influence in memory. (Starr, 2013) The PCC is also active when we decide the value of things, make choices, gamble, etc. According to Starr, meeting people activates the same region of the brain responsible for assigning prices to objects. So a first impression of someone basically assigns a value to that person based on our own ideas, morals, religion, etc. This all happens extremely quickly. Taking into account that the amygdala also controls fear and alerts us to possible danger, it is easy to see how fast a first impression can come. If you are walking on the path in a forest and see something that could be a snake, the lightning like fight or flight response you get comes from the amygdala assessing the threat. This is the same part of the brain that creates first impressions, so you can see how quickly they are made. When I picture John after reading the first scenario, I see a confident, friendly person who eagerly talks to many people throughout his day. I see a man who knows who he is as a person and is very likeable. The scenario seems to show him as a very likeable individual who is very full of life and outgoing. I can almost see him smiling as he walks around, just enjoying being alive. When I picture John after reading the second scenario, I see a very different person. I see someone who walks slouched over and doesn’t engage in friendly repartee with anyone. He doesn’t appear to be as friendly. I wouldn’t say that I see him as unfriendly, maybe just withdrawn. Perhaps I read too much into it, but it seems to me as if the second John is not someone that you would be drawn to talk to while the first John would seem to be charismatic and draw you into a conversation. When I waited a few days and reread the scenarios in a different order, I was unable to shake my original feelings. The first impressions that I got of the character stayed with me. I still felt that the extrovert John was happy and friendly and the introvert John was aloof and cold. I think it is because first impressions are hard to change once set. Bertram Gawronski and some colleagues recently did some research into why first impressions are so difficult to change. Their experiment involved showing pictures of individuals with either negative or positive information about that individual to participants. Once the participant had viewed the slide, their first impression was made. The participant was then shown the same individual with text contradictory to the first slide’s information. Gawronski and his team noted that the only way a person’s first impression was changed was by changing the background color of the computer screen while the participant was studying the new information. They concluded that in order to change a first impression, you had to change the context of where the information is being processed. If you do not change the situation in which you learn new information, the first impression will always dominate completely. If you change the situation in which you learn new information, the first impression can be modified but will always remain in the back of your mind. According to Gawronski, once a first impression has been made it becomes “the rule”. Any experience that is contradictory to “the rule” is viewed as an exception to the rule in certain circumstances. In order to fully change a first impression, you would have to be overwhelmed with exceptions to the rule experiences in many different places and ways. It seems as if it is almost impossible to change a first impression because that is what our mind judges as the norm and anything contradictory to what we consider the norm must just be an exception that could be explained away by circumstances.

Reference
Dye, Lee (2004-Sept-22) Study: First Impressions Really Matter
Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=69942&page=1
Nauert, Rick (2011-Jan-19) Why First Impressions are Difficult to Change: Study Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/10429-impressions-difficult-change-study.html
Starr, Karla (2013-Feb-08) The Science of First Impressions
Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-luck/201302/the-science-first-impressions

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