“You never get a second chance to make a first impression...” - Harlan Hogan While we can correct, over time, misconceptions of a bad first impression, the first impression will be with us forever. Whether we like to admit it or not, as a society we judge everyone we meet, as soon as we meet them. Right or wrong, each of us do this, usually in under the first 30 seconds of meeting someone new. This is done automatically for many reasons including for safety and procreation. However well evolved we may be, our natural instincts remain intact to assist in keeping us safe and the human race to continue on.
We look at hair style, clothing choice, piercings, and tattoos. I know I do this everyday as a state trooper. When I see someone with prison-type tattoo's - that's a clue to me that they may be up to no good. While not everyone who has neck tattoo is a felon, it does heighten my awareness when I see one. These observations are not the only things I use, but our first impressions are a valuable tool. Just as I am sizing someone up, they too are doing the same to me. If I pull someone over and approach their vehicle with my a stained, untucked uniform shirt, and with boots that are scuffed and looked they hadn't been shined since being in the academy, the occupants will be formulating a negative image of the officer at there vehicle window. For most people this would be an annoyance that someone who looks so slovenly wears a badge, to someone looking to cause the officer harm - this would be an open invitation. If one looks lazy, they probably are. If an officer's hasn't taken the time to get their uniform in order and failed to shine their shoes, one could surmise their gun probably hasn't been cleaned in awhile either. This may not be the case. It could be that the officer had been investigating a severe traffic accident earlier in the shift and became the uniformed and boots suffered from this. But if the occupants of this stop aren't aware of this - the officer just looks unkempt, and unprofessional. The officer could probably expect a negative call the Sergeant as well. To someone not wanting to go back to jail, they may feel, based on this impression, they stand a pretty good chance of getting away if they choose to fight. First impressions, while they may not always be accurate, they are lasting.
The things about us that we choose, like hair and clothing style help to define us in the eye of others. While there are those that judge other based on ethnic backgrounds, I find this lazy. One gets to know more about a person on the things they choose rather then things one has no control over.
In a certain set of circumstances, I agree with actor Vincent D'Onofrio statement, "It's pretty simple, pretty obvious: that people's first impressions of people are really a big mistake." (D'Onofrio, 2007) To me, this statement takes...