First Impressions

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Oscar Wilde knew it was only shallow people who do NOT judge by appearance. It takes a mere two seconds to make or get a first impression. In that time, landlords judge prospective tenants, employers rate job applicants, lawyers decide the innocence or guilt of recently arraigned clients, blind dates decide whether they can make it through an entire dinner, and newly engaged couples conclude whether their future in-laws will ruin their entire life.

And vice versa.

A first impression IS a lasting one. People focus on what’s in front of them — skin and eye color. Clothes. Age. Body language. Facial expression. Facial hair. Tone of voice can be a turn on or a turn off. Impressions also come through the nose, and too much deodorant or not enough both leave their mark. Apparently people don’t need to know someone in or order to BELIEVE they know someone.

Is what you see what you get? First Impressions this hour on The Connection
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Nalini Ambady, experimental psychologist at Harvard University.