Do First Impressions Matter?

Everyday, I hand select an article for MCAT CARS practice.

February 17, 2017 – MCAT CARS Passage

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

An international team of psychologists argue that there appears to be truth in the saying ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’.

In a paper by Bertram Gawronski, Robert Rydell, Bram Vervliet, and Jan De Houwer, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, the authors present research findings suggesting that new experiences contradicting a first impression become ‘bound’ to the context in which they were made. The result is that the new experiences influence people’s reactions only in that specific context while first impressions dominate all other contexts.

Lead author Bertram Gawronski, Canada Research Chair at The University of Western Ontario, said:

“Imagine you have a new colleague at work and your impression of that person is not very favourable. A few weeks later, you meet your colleague at a party and you realize he is actually a very nice guy. Although you know your first impression was wrong, your gut response to your new colleague will be influenced by your new experience only in contexts that are similar to the party. However, your first impression will still dominate in all other contexts.”

According to Bertram Gawronski the brain stores unexpected experiences as ‘exceptions-to-the-rule’ with the result that the rule is still regarded as valid – except for the specific context in which the exceptional experience took place.

Investigating the persistence of first impressions, the researchers showed study participants either positive or negative information on a computer screen about an individual they did not know. Later on participants were given new information about the same person – but this information was inconsistent with that provided initially.

While participants formed an impression of the target individual the researchers subtly changed the background colour of the computer screen to study the influence of contexts. Subsequently participants’ spontaneous reactions to an image of the target person were measured. The researchers found that participants’ reactions were only influenced by the new information when the target individual was shown against the background in which the new information had been learned. In all other circumstances participants reactions were still dominated by the first information when the target individual was shown against other backgrounds.

Bertram Gawronski noted that although the results support the view that first impressions are notoriously persistent, they can sometimes be changed.

“What is necessary is for the first impression to be challenged in multiple different contexts. In that case, new experiences become decontextualized and the first impression will slowly lose its power. But, as long as a first impression is challenged only within the same context, you can do whatever you want. The first impression will dominate regardless of how often it is contradicted by new experiences.”

Adapted from psyarticles.

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This was an article on Psychology.

Have a great day.
Jack Westin

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39 Comments


  1. 1st impression=dominate+altered slowly over multiple context

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  2. 1st imp = persistent
    1st imp may fade in multiple context

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  3. only 1 1st impress + dominate, brain = rule (Gaw), impress can change

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  4. MI: First impressions dominate, New info changes it in multiple context, Neut tone

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  5. First impressions are persistent and dominate all the time unless they are challenged in multiple contexts

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  6. 1st impressions= important + changed in specific context

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  7. 1st impressions= dominates; can challenge in multiple contexts

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  8. first impressions still dominate, but only change in certain contexts.

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  9. First impressions context dependent; change the context, change impression

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  10. override first impression only in context of situation

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  11. First impression dominates but could be challenged by presenting challenges to it in several contexts.

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  12. 1st impression = dominate, ^ dep on context

    ^ means change (I would write a triangle on paper)

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  13. First impression = important, can be changed (many different contexts).

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  14. MIP: first impression irreversible in same context…loses meaning over experience

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  15. first impression= dominates
    diff contexts= can change slowly

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  16. 1st impression dominates in same context. can change w/ diff contexts

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  17. First impression = most important
    Can sometimes be circumstantially altered

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  18. First impression dominates most contexts, some exceptions in specific contexts

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  19. First impressions dominate generally, but later contradictory impression dominate context-specific can change

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  20. MI: first impressions cannot be changed+exceptions apply to specific contexts

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  21. First impressions = persistent unless challenged in multiple different contexts

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  22. MI: 1st impression = dominant, rest = situational

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  23. First impressions dominate all impressions (though can be challenged).

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  24. 1st impressions = dominant
    Context can change impression

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  25. First impressions trump contradicting new experiences

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  26. First impression always dominates other experiences; FI can only be changed sometimes in same context

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  27. first impression=almost always dominates unless in some contexts

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  28. first impression = dominates
    other impression = context dependent

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  29. First impression=dominant regardless the new info

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  30. 1st imp=important + dominate contexts
    Specific contexts = rule exceptions

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  31. MIP: 1st impression dominates all contexts except in new experiences; tone = neutral

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  32. 1st Imp can be influenced by new experiences + dominate within same context; author = neutral

    Reply

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