Havard psychologist: Two questions form our first impression

Havard psychologist: Two questions form our first impression


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We are either critical of new people or we immediately find them likeable. But why is that? A team led by Amy Cuddy from the renowned Havard University examined these and other questions. They found that one to three questions tell our subconscious whether we find someone nice or not.


The first impression is made within a tenth of a second
When we meet someone for the first time, our brain only needs a split second to pass judgment on the unknown. But what is decisive for how we assess someone? How is it that one person manages to make a good impression while feeling uncomfortable near another? According to Harvard professor Amy Cuddy, two specific questions would play a central role, which everyone subconsciously asks themselves when they first meet a stranger.

The first question was "How trustworthy does my counterpart appear?", Cuddy told the British "Independent". Already at the first meeting we would subconsciously decide whether the other person would be suitable as a friend, partner, etc. or instead be an "enemy", according to the psychologist, who has been dealing with the topic "first impression" for over 15 years and is only now recently published a book entitled “Presence”.

Trust is more important than competence
The second question for judging an unknown person is "How competent do I judge the other person?" Cuddy explains further. According to the expert, most people would believe that competence is the more important factor, especially in the professional context, because they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough for a certain job. In fact, warmth and trustworthiness are the more important criteria when evaluating other people. "From an evolutionary perspective, it is more crucial for our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust," explains the psychologist. Because it was already more important for the cavemen to recognize whether their counterpart wanted to rob or kill them, instead of whether they could build a good fire.

Over-ambitious people often seem unapproachable
Although competence is valued so highly, it only comes about when the other has already rated it as trustworthy. However, if you e.g. Focusing too much on highlighting your own strengths during a job interview could end up harming yourself. Because such over-committed and ambitious people would often appear unapproachable and would therefore have worse chances in professional life.

“If you try to influence someone before you win their trust, you usually don't get very far. You seem rather suspicious because you then act manipulative, ”says the psychologist. "A warm, trustworthy person who is strong also elicits admiration from others, but only after you have built a relationship of trust will your strength become a gift rather than a threat."

Smooth skin makes the other person appear more believable
Researchers at Jacobs University in Bremen recently came to the conclusion that the skin's appearance obviously also plays a decisive role in the first assessment of other people. Accordingly, a study had shown that the appearance of the skin was decisive for the assessment of the credibility and competence of the other person. For on the one hand, smooth skin would appear healthier than blemished, and there was also an indirect effect in that flawless skin without pimples and reddened skin suggested maturity and expertise, according to the scientists. (No)

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