The Importance of First Impressions Sydney Tripp University of Kentucky Abstract Research has been conducted in the past two years that focuses on the impact first impressions have on interpersonal relationships. The results of the majority of the studies that have been recently conducted point to the importance of first impressions and how they are not easily reversed. Meaning that individuals cling to first impressions that have been established. This paper discusses the importance of first impressions and how first impressions relate to perception in interpersonal communications. The research points to the vital role that first impressions play in the perception of two strangers. Keywords: relationship, iniatiating, interactions The Importance of First Impressions From a young age we are told to make a good first impression. Are first impressions that important or this just a good way for parents to get their children to act appropriately when out in public? First impressions are vital in interactions with strangers and if first impressions are made accurately they can be useful in deciding how to interact with people (Adler & Proctor, 2011). Being liked by people is something that most people strive for and from this most people make every effort to make good first impressions from the beginning of interpersonal relationships. Knowing that it is most peoples goal to be liked is what leads to the statement that first impressions are the most important part of a strangers perception of another stranger. Through this study one will begin to understand that first impressions are vital in interpersonal communication through understanding first impressions affects on perception, relationships between two people and the importance of first impressions in the workplace. First impressions heavily rely on perception. When two strangers meet one of them could be making a great effort to make a good first impression. Even though this is taking place if the other person does not perceive this individuals attempt at making a good first impression, then the first individuals attempts have been thwarted. One study researched how mood affects ones perception of anothers first impression. Results showed that people who were in better moods had more positive first impressions of this character rather than the people who were in bad moods who had more of a negative view of this person (Forgas, 2011). Another study that relates first impressions to perception examined peoples first impressions of people based on how similar the perceiver believed the other person to be to them (Human & Biensanz, 2012). Both of these studies consider outside factors and perception when related to first impressions. In looking at relationships between people the one thing to consider is how relationships between two strangers are initiated and how it has been sustained. This all stemmed from a first impression. At the beginning of this relationship these two people formulated an opinion of the other person and from there decided how to proceed. First impressions are also vital when looking at romantic relationships and their inceptions. When looking for relationships, it is vitally important to make a good first impression. Age can also play a role in perception and first impressions. In a study conducted by Beauchamp, Dunlop, Downey and Estabrooks (2012), to see how womens first impressions of other women would decide which exercise class they would join. The results showed how women found age to be the largest contributor to what class they joined. Women are also known for having more accurate first impressions than men (Chan, Rodgers, Parisotto & Biesanz, 2011). Past just friendly or romantic interpersonal relationships, first impressions also have a heavy influence when looking at the job market. In seeking employment one can go about this in two ways. One of these being through a well written and thought out resume while the other is through a good interview. From each of these it becomes clear that an individual may only have mere seconds to make an impression on the person who would be selecting you for this job. Adler and Proctor describe the halo effect as the tendency to form an overall positive impression of a person on the basis of one positive characteristic (p. 102). The halo effect often plays a role in job interviews. If the interviewer has identified a positive attribute for the interviewee then the interviewer ill then most likely ask questions that will confirm their positive representation of the interviewee. On the other hand, applicants who start off with a bad first impression give the interviewer a negative attribute to focus on. In this case the interviewer will now base questions around the bad impression that the interviewer has received from the applicant, which will make it difficult for the applicant to come out of this in a positive light. This opposite halo effect is referred to as the devil effect (Adler & Proctor, 2011). First impressions are also very hard to reverse. In a study conducted by Laws, Apperson, Buchert, and Bregman, students completed surveys about their professors on the first day of classes while other students completed surveys about their professors after the first week of class. Law et al. pointed out how first impressions are lasting: Given that students form lasting impressions almost immediately (at the end of the first class period), it would seem imperative that a faculty member should make every effort to make a positive impression during the first class session. It is course is rated at the end of the semester. (n. p. Adler et al add to this subject by stating that problems arise, however, when the labels we attach are inaccurate after we form an opinion of someone, we tend to hang on to it and make any conflicting information fit our opinion. (p. 102) In looking at these examples, it only shows the importance of first impressions is vital to perception and interpersonal communications. First impressions are essential in all kinds of interpersonal relationships including, platonic, romantic and professional. First impressions are influenced by perception, perceived-similarity and age. They are also especially critical because most people cling to first impressions (Adler & Proctor, 2011). Which also means that first impressions are not easily reversed. All of the research points to that making a good first impression is one of the most fundamental components to successful interpersonal relationships and communication. Perceived Limitations and Further Research This paper had several perceived limitations. One of these limitations were the limited amount of scholarly research on how heavily first impressions re relied on during first encounters that eventually develop into committed romantic relationships. Another perceived limitation for this paper was that the majority of scholarly research relating to first impressions was published recently or within the past two years. It would have been interesting to compare the role that first impressions play now to what it could have played fifty years ago. The last perceived limitation in this paper was that there was a limited amount of research on how first impressions affect interviewing for a potential new job and I also think this could be an area where further research is needed. Further research could be done on how first impressions play a role in romantic relationships specifically. Another area that could be further explored is how first impressions play a role in how a new romantic partner is introduced to an individuals parents. The research area of how first impressions play a role in the college classroom setting is very interesting and could be expanded upon. References Adler, R. B. , & Proctor, R. F. , (2011). Looking in, looking out. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. 3rd Ed. Beauchamp, M. , Dunlop, W. , Downey, S. , & Estabrooks, P. 2012). First impressions count: Perceptions of surface-level and deep-level similarity within postnatal exercise classes and implications for program adherence. Journal Of Health Psychology, 17(1), 68-76. doi:10. 1177/1359105311408156 Chan, M. , Rogers, K. H. , Parisotto, K. L. , & Biesanz, J. C. (2011). Forming first impressions: The role of gender and normative accuracy in personality perception. Journal Of Research In Personality, 45(1), 117-120. doi:10. 1016/j. jrp. 2010. 11. 001 Forgas, J. P. (2011). Can negative affect eliminate the power of first impressions? Affective influences on primacy and recency effects in impression formation. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(2), 425-429. doi:10. 1016/j. jesp. 2010. 11. 005 Human, L. J. , & Biesanz, J. C. (2012). Accuracy and assumed similarity in first impressions of personality: Differing associations at different levels of analysis. Journal Of Research In Personality, 46(1), 106-110. doi:10. 1016/j. jrp. 2011. 10. 002 Laws, E. L. , Apperson, J. M. , Buchert, S. , & Bregman, N. J. (2010). Student evaluations of instruction: When are enduring first impressions formed?.