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Social perception: the first impression

The human brain is designed to help the individual judge others efficiently. From the first moment you have contact with another person, the  brain begins a process of classification. This classification is based on the sensation generated when seeing someone for the first time.

How does social perception occur?

Impressions of others are often formed very quickly with only minimal information. Impressions are often based on the roles and social norms expected of people. 

Basically, the term social perception refers to the processes and mechanisms through which we come to see and know other people, their qualities, their characteristics, intentions, etc. By perceiving a person, the perceiver can use his own past experiences as a judgment.

It should be noted that the perception of a person is different from that of an object ; since the perception of the object implies simple mechanisms and the perception of a person implies complex psychological mechanisms and processes in the perceiver.

Recent research uncovered the areas of the brain where perception occurs, and how these areas are modified according to impression. The research used functional magnetic resonance imaging to see if people stored information about other people in a different place in the brain than where they stored information about animals. Before this investigation they obtained a positive result. It was found that specific areas of the prefrontal cortex were more active when people interacted with people rather than animals.

Formerly it was believed that the eyes were a mirror of the soul, and that by looking a person in the eye you could discover their true intentions, their physical state and their essence. In 2007, research conducted to assess the connection between people found that when people look at each other directly, they process their functions more completely and faster, and remember them better than when the same people do not look at each other. Hence the origin of the phrase “look me in the eye.”

The first impression has to do with social cognition, which basically explores how people think and act and how we process information from our social world. This impression persists for a long time, therefore, overcoming a bad first impression can feel overwhelming and generate some difficulties, since after a negative impression there may not be another opportunity to prove otherwise. On the other hand, if from the beginning you tend to make a good impression, it will be much easier to join that.

This mental process can be deterred by different abilities. There are several ways to create a pleasant, familiar and interesting feeling in the other. These forms can be, from subtle facial signals, to the tone of voice used or, small corporal expressions, that can fluctuate from one moment to another the impression that the other person has of you.

Factors influencing the first impression

If you want to make a good impression in those first few minutes, we offer you information on what factors to take into account, which can be of great help to get off to a good start in your relationships, be they social, work or first romantic dates.

Physical appearance

It is the first impression from minute zero, the first thing that enters through the eyes, that is the physical. While for some people the physique is not the most important thing, for others, it is everything. Hence the saying  A picture is worth a thousand words .”  And how true it is!

The combination of facial expression, body language and the choice of clothing can create an almost exact image of each person’s personality. In this regard, women tend to be more perceptive and tend to judge more quickly by that appearance.

To make a good first impression, you should  avoid looking tired , since it has been proven that facial signals that show exhaustion, generate unpleasant and unstable sensations in the receiver, which cause a person to be classified in the row of bad impression.

A person who shows signs of fatigue is more likely to be unsuccessful in business meetings or first dates ; since a person with drooping eyelids and isolated gaze creates an impression that leads to believing that they have  low intelligence  and low self-esteem , even if the reality is different.

You may also be interested in:   Broca’s aphasia or motor aphasia

Body language

Body language says a lot about a person. The gestures with the hands, legs, foot movements, postures, etc., speak for themselves.

Body language shows how a person feels , for example, if they often touch their hair, if they constantly move their limbs, if they show an upright position, among other gestures, they can be highly demonstrative and show each type of personality.

Due to body language, an image very close to the personality of each subject can be created. You can tell if he or she looks nervous, calm, insecure, bored, or happy.

To be on time

Something very important to keep in mind is that in the first appointments or interviews is punctuality, since no one wants to hear excuses about being late.

You must avoid being late! You can take the proper precautions and leave your house thinking of arriving a few minutes earlier, taking into account the traffic and any unforeseen events that may arise at the time.

A person who is late for his first appointment or job interview, generates an impression of low confidence, irresponsibility, immaturity and lack of respect for the other.

Nice smile

You can never miss a beautiful smile that accompanies a good first impression.

Subtly smiling people have been shown to be more successful when it comes to first impressions. And we say subtly because an exaggerated smile can generate mistrust and insecurity in the other person and this person may think that their intentions are not sincere for them and they try to hide them behind that big smile.

It is known that neither extreme is good, therefore neither a big smile nor a scarce one will achieve that feeling of trust and warmth that we hope you feel is generated in the other person .

Be yourself

It is important to make a good impression that you never lose your essence.

The essence, in addition to the physical features, is what defines us as people and makes each individual unique and unrepeatable.

To make a real good impression, you should not stop being yourself , perhaps you could shape or avoid some things that are not entirely favorable, but you should not try to change your being, your interior, since if you do, you will not be making yourself known. yourself but someone else.

Bias and categorization process

Both the categorization process and the feeling of prejudice are two relevant factors in understanding a person’s perception .

In the process of social categorization, people are mentally categorized into different groups based on their common characteristics. The categorization can be done according to sex; age; race; social status or occupation of a person.

Social categorization is seen as a mental shortcut technique that allows the subject to make quick decisions and set expectations of how people will behave in certain situations.

The problem with this mental shortcut technique includes the fact that it can lead to errors and also to judgment through prejudice. These prejudices are generally based on negative beliefs or feelings , and are often transmitted within a culture, from one generation to another.

When people have prejudiced attitudes toward others, they tend to view everyone who fits into a certain group as “equals.” They package each individual who possesses particular characteristics or beliefs into one package with all their “peers,” and they fail to really see each person for what he or she is, a unique individual.

Measuring prejudices is a vastly complicated task, especially since people differ in the type and extent of their prejudices according to their society, culture or religion.

If you have a prejudice about a person, even if you have not yet had contact with him, you will already have an impression of him. The impression formed in the brain based on prejudice can rarely be modified by the visual impression, since the subject will already have an image of the other person created in his mind.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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