How to Make the Best First Impression, According to Experts

Everyone can make snap judgments, especially when meeting someone new.

In less than one-tenth of a second of seeing someone for the first time, our brain processes information about the person’s face—which leads to quick conclusions about a new acquaintance’s qualities, including trustworthiness, competency, friendliness, honesty and morality—according to a 2006 study published in Psychological Science. This tendency dates back to evolutionary times, when we would encounter strangers and, for survival purposes, need to assess whether they would inflict harm or be an ally, says Vivian Zayas, a professor of psychology at Cornell University.

Most of us believe the first impressions we come up with, too, says Alexander Todorov, a professor of psychology at Princeton University and author of Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions. And although sometimes they can be misleading, first impressions do form people’s view of a person.

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