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Forming First Impressions Essay

1445 words - 6 pages

Why do job candidate wear a suit for a job interview? Why do defense attorneys have their clients dress neatly and get a haircut before they are seen before a Jury? First impressions are considered to be critical. Many important decisions involve forming impressions about another person. Decisions about the ability of prospective job candidates, judgments about the suitability of expert financial advisors, and even choices between alternate dating partners all involve processing information about other people. Whether we are meeting our possible love interest or our new boss for the first time, the first impression created by them will probably determine our likelihood of getting the job that we hope for or the relationship we are seeking. When you meet a customer for the first time, or during the first moments of a presentation, the impression they form will form their perception of any additional information. It is very customary to hear people talk about the importance of giving a good first impression. Schneider, Hastorf and Ellsworth in their research suggest that one of the first judgments people make about a person is whether they like the person or not, and that judgments based on physical attractiveness are immediate. The very first moment in which we meet someone, if they make a good first impression in that moment, you will tend to dismiss any negative attributes shown later in the person. However, if someone were to make a bad first impression, you will have a hard time making a positive influence later on. In summary, forming an overall picture of what other people are like is fundamental to many decisions in our daily life.
Theory and research on impression formation dates back to the pioneering work of Solomon Asch in 1946. In 1946, S. E. Asch decided to investigate how people form impressions of another person’s personality. Asch argued that an impression is a dynamic product of all information available to the person forming the impression. Forming an impression of someone happens rapidly and is hard to forget once formed (Asch, 1946). Each particular trait of a person produces a particular impression, therefore several traits will form one impression of a person, According to Asch, if a person has the following traits a, b, c, d, e then the impression is seen as a+b+c+d+e=impression (Asch, 1946). Given a list of items to remember according to Asch, we will tend to remember the first few things more than those things in the middle. We also tend to assume that items at the beginning of the list are of greater importance or significance .Another justification as to how we form impressions is that people form an impression of the person as a whole instead of seeing the person as individual traits that would be perceived in relation to each other. A general impression of a person is a cause for error as each trait is not considered individually when forming the general impression, this is known as the ‘halo effect’...

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