First Impressions Matter: 9 Things People Decide Right Away About Us, and What To Do About It

It’s an interesting/scary world when a scientific study suggests that first impressions matter more than actual facts.  We’ve written about first impressions before on our Facebook page, and also included articles.  But, what we haven’t done is explicitly broken down what people are determining about you in those first few seconds.  This time we will do that and also offer up suggestions for insuring your hit each of those on a high note.

First, according to studies compiled by Business Insider, here are the nine qualities that people decide about you instantly:

1) Trustworthiness

What to do about it: researchers invited onto NPR to speak about the matter had two suggestions, depending on whether you’re male or female.  Males with lower voice tones were judged less trustworthy (and mid to higher pitched vocals were judged more favorably).  For women, it depended on whether they dropped or lifted their tonality at the end of a sentence.  Females, to be deemed more trustworthy, should work on dropping their tone at the end of a sentence, because it sounds more definitive and less like a question when they do so.

2) Status

This is a tricky one, as Scientific American also reported that those that chase status tended to develop aggressive and self-defeating behaviors.  Crazy socks reflect higher status in one study we spoke about here.  Also, in an interesting twist, it was also reported that money and social values are triggered in the same brain region.  Some studies suggest that triggering one correlates with the other.  So, you can either be judged by the perceived cost of the items you’re wearing (so be sure to dress well), or by immediately expressing a valued personality trait (humor, leadership, confidence, etc).

3) Sexual Orientation

Although not a fool-proof method (as shown by the very first link in this blog), it is something that people adopt pretty quickly.  This is largely based on the face of the person.  We wrote about the psychology of sunglasses awhile back, and it’s super applicable here.  If you’re looking to change or muddle or better define your sexual orientation impressions, you can either go the route of sunglasses, or: being aware and changing your facial responses, and changing your diet and exercise routine to change your facial shape a bit.

4) Intelligence

Making eye contact was the best shown way to come across as more intelligent.  Otherwise, glasses and their thickness were correlated to perceiving higher intelligence, as was a more expressive voice.

5) Promiscuity

This one mostly applied to females, and most directly focused on whether a tattoo was visible or not.  More visible tattoos = more promiscuous.  The study hasn’t been replicated in males yet, but it’s something to consider.  This is an easy fix though so long as your tattoos aren’t on your face, neck, or hands; you can simply cover up the tattoos with clothes when you choose to.  Or, they do have makeup that helps cover tattoos too.

6) Dominance

Facial scars and shaved male heads conveyed dominance on their own.  Aside from that, perceived emotions triggered dominance in different ways for males and females.  Males who were friendly, neutral, or angry were perceived as dominant.  Women triggered dominance through happiness and anger, but not neutrality.  Alternatively, there was a study showing negative correlations between intelligence and dominance (if you’re perceived as one, likely not as the other too) for males and females, and a negative association with friendliness and dominance for females.

7) Successful 

This one makes me feel good about harping on you guys for getting tailored clothes so often.  Having clothes that fit you and your body type is the easiest way to come across as more successful with that first impression.

8) On your way to a promotion

This one relied entirely on whether you dress well in a business style, or if you dressed casually.  Unsurprisingly, well-dressed, suited up people were determined to not only make more money but probably get a promotion more quickly too.  This holds true even if your work environment allows you to dress casually.

9) Adventurousness

How wide are your steps?  Wide steps give perceived extroversion and a sense of adventure, while shorter steps conveyed being perceived as neurotic.


The best part about all of this, is that it is fixable.  Knowing that people are judging you subconsciously on so many levels, and that even facts do not override these first impressions, you should strongly consider changing one thing at a time to enhance your social life.

What do you guys want to work on first?  Let us know down below.

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8 thoughts on “First Impressions Matter: 9 Things People Decide Right Away About Us, and What To Do About It

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