First Impressions

People make a lot of assessments within seconds of meeting you. In fact, many of the first impressions are made in fractions of a second. Of course, some of these first impressions can be changed with time and getting to know someone.


People make a snap decision on this in a tenth of a second. A study was done at Princeton University where they gave one group a tenth of a second to see someone and then write down their take on a series of traits about that person. Another group had as much time as they wanted. The other traits were affected by the amount of time but judgments of trustworthiness did not. Meaning that we make the analysis of trustworthiness in one tenth of a second.

High Status

Don’t know if this means the marketers are doing their jobs, but apparently people perceive someone wearing name brand clothes to be higher status than someone who isn’t. Interesting because wearing name brands can mean a person is well off, but the truly wealthy don’t feel the need to impress in many situations. The idea of new money being ostentatious and old money being much more subdued and looking to stay out of view.

Straight or Gay

Some studies say that people make a decision about whether someone is gay in one twentieth of a second. Whether that decision is correct is another matter. The study found that people were right more often than chance but not much more. So even though that decision is made quickly, it may not be accurate. Apparently though, if you pay attention to if a person’s eyes dilate, that will tell you if they are aroused and attracted or not.

If Someone is Smart

Professor Murphy at Loyola Marymount found an odd bit of information. People perceive you as smarter if you maintain more eye contact, especially while talking. This behavior correlated with a person’s IQ but they found it could also be a chosen pattern to give the impression of intelligence. Two other factors also made a difference in perception: speaking expressively and the old stereotype of thick glasses.


This was a British study so who know how valid but they found that women with tattoos were seen as more promiscuous. We think that may just be a British thing. It is also most likely age dependent. Tattoos are so common with younger people that we think it would be hard to believe that people draw that conclusion anymore even though it was true at one time.

How You Walk

People draw conclusions from the way you walk. People will see you as extroverted and adventurous if you have a looser gait and if you have a very crisp gait as more uptight or even potentially neurotic. Also, normally when you move one leg forward you swing the opposite arm forward. People who move the leg and arm forward on the same side at the same time are seen as less coordinated. They did a study where they showed convicted muggers videos of women walking down the street and asked which they would pick as targets. They almost always picked the women walking with the same side gait.