Yet, many come away from these situations with at best a vague notion of how that first impression was perceived or at worst no clue at all.
Now, psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis and Wake Forest University have tested people in first impression settings in the laboratory and have found that confidence makes all the difference in knowing whether you've hit a homerun or struck out.
Erika N. Carlson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences; her advisor Simine Vazire, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology; and Wake Forest University's R. Michael Furr, Ph.D., engaged some 280 students in opposite-sex pairings from both universities in five-minute conversation after which impressions (your rating of your partner's personality traits) and metaperceptions (your rating of how you think your partner rated your personality traits) were recorded on 60 personality items (such as nice, funny, outgoing), which were rated on a scale from 1 to 7.
There was a twist to their study. The researchers asked a confidence question: How confident are you in your estimation of how your partner sees your personality?
"In the past, researchers hadn't asked whether you know when you're accurate in first impressions, nor your degree of confidence," Carlson says.
"We found that people who were poor at making good meta-impressions were less confident than people who made accurate ones. So, after making a first impression, if you're confident in your judgment, you're likely to be right."
The research was recently published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
At the crux of knowing you've made a good impression is something called calibration, or "being confident when you're right and uncertain when you're wrong," says Vazire. "Not well-calibrated people are confident when they're wrong and uncertain when they're right.
The confidence and accuracy questions in our study shed light on participants' calibration."
She likens accurate calibration to a sort of internal gauge.
"You think, 'This is the impression I think I made.' And the internal gauge tells you to go ahead with that impression, you're probably right," she says. "Or, gather more information, you might be wrong. So, well-calibrated people have a good internal gauge."
The goal of their research is to enable people to trust the confidence of their first impressions and pursue the next step, Carlson says.
When you have misjudged the way others see you, the result is often a bad decision, says Carlson. "You might have thought that the date you went on went well and she liked you, but it went wrong in the date's eyes and she doesn't like you. Your next move could be embarrassing and painful," she says.
We're sometimes wrong about the impressions we've made, Vazire says.
"We might think that obviously the other person could tell that I hated them, or that I obviously liked them, or obviously my brilliance came across, but we've all been wrong, so it's important in any number of social settings when to actually doubt how you've come across," she says.
Future metaperception research will explore videotaped first impression interactions from calibration studies to determine which factors affect calibration, like verbal or non-verbal clues, which might reveal who formed accurate metaperceptions and who didn't, who was wellcalibrated and who wasn't, and perhaps more importantly, why people understood the impressions they made. Such clues could be in overt behaviors like talking rates, smiles, how close the participants sat to each other, or more subjective things like the intimacy of the conversation.
Carlson says there is some preliminary evidence that when one person is more accurate in metaperceptions, their partner also is, suggesting that there might be something unique to relationships that influences whether we can pick up on the impression we've made.
With the exception of someone like Michael Scott (the totally clueless boss in the TV sitcom "The Office"), people have a surprising level of self-knowledge in judging their first impressions, says Carlson.
"For the most part, people understand when they're right and when they're wrong," she says. "If you want to know if you've made the right impression, trust your gut."
Gerry Everding | EurekAlert!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy