By Mehwish Raja, Rotterdam
When we think about no words needed it could be expressing yourself without words or it could be what other people think about you when you walk into a room for example.
First impressions are mostly without words. The first impression someone gets about you is over 80% of how that person thinks about you. You might think that first impressions aren’t that important but…………………………………………………………
Imagine you’re at a football game and a guy is sitting next to you, he bumps into you every minute, looks very weird at you and he spills his drink on you. Days later you’re walking in the park when suddenly it starts to rain, the same guy that was sitting next to you during the football game offers you a umbrella. Do you change your mind on him because of his second action or do you go with your first impression and write him off?
Research in social psychology suggests that we’re quick to form lasting impressions of others based on their behaviours. We manage to do this with little effort concluding stable character traits from a single behaviour, like a harsh word or a clumsy step. Using our impressions as guides, we can predict how people are going to behave in the future.
Having the knowledge of the guy from the football game was a jerk the first time you met him, you might expect more of the same in the future. So you might choose to avoid him the next time you see him.
Behavioural researches have identified patterns that seem to guide this process of impression updating. On one hand, learning very negative information about someone has a stronger impact than learning very positive information. So the guy that you met at the football game, his bad behaviour at the game might have a bigger impact on your opinion about him than his good behaviour at the park.
In the situation with the football fan turned good, your brain says “Well in my experience, pretty much everyone would lend someone their umbrella. But the way this guy acted at the football game, that was unusual.” And so, you decide to go with your first impression.
There’s a good moral in this data: Your brain and or you might care more about the very negative things another person has done compared to the very positive things. So this means that first impressions might be much more important than you might think.