Surely you have heard that it is important to make a good first impression or maybe it was you who told a friend. In fact, for people the first impression is very important because we know that starting from this first impact people form an idea of how we are from which they derive an image that will condition future relationships.
But what is the first impression really?
The first impression is just a quick subconscious attribution of personality traits based on small details. While these small signals may reveal a part of us, they are actually very ambiguous, and are not always logically related to attribution. For example, one person may make a certain sense of using a verbal expression while someone else may make it a completely opposite sense.
We all use this type of attribution in everyday life. Just seconds after meeting someone, even without exchanging a word, we are already developing a theory about who they are and what kind of personality they have.
The most interesting fact is that the first impression is basically formed through visual signals and, in particular, by the information we get from the other's face. In fact, our brain knows that facial clues are the most significant, as the face expresses important emotions that can help us interact.
It is also interesting to note that when we are introduced to someone with physical characteristics similar to a person we know, we tend to attribute some of these characteristics to him. If the person looks like someone we like, we attribute more positive characteristics to him and show a more open attitude.
Judging quickly is part of the survival instinct
What causes a person to make irrational judgments based solely on small details? The truth is that first impressions are a very useful mechanism to guide us and tell us how to behave even when we don't have enough information.
We know our brains don't like confusing situations, and sometimes this carries potential danger. Thus, when we are faced with a person we know nothing about, we quickly analyze him in search of any clue that allows us to orient ourselves.
Thus is born the first impression, a basic signaling process that pushes us to approach or move away from the person if we believe that it may be dangerous for us.
At this point you may be wondering why we are able to attribute certain personality traits, something complex when you think about it, starting from a simple mental scan. The answer lies in our autobiographical memory, that is, in the experiences we have lived with other people.
In the course of our life we have met thousands of people and we have interacted with hundreds of them. From these experiences, from the films, books and experiences we have lived, we have formed a representation of the different types of people that exist. For example, we all have a stereotypical idea of what a university professor, doctor or bricklayer should look like.
Obviously, these representations are only a model, which can be more or less faithful, but which serves as a standard for making a comparison when forming the first impression. In reality, we cannot avoid this mechanism, as it is activated automatically. However, being aware of its existence and all the stereotypes that may come with it is a big step in developing more open relationships.