Good news freshers! Recent research has found that you already possess everything you need to make a great first impression. Furthermore, it doesn’t require conventional beauty or a radical wardrobe. According to York psychologists, the answer is all in our expressions.
Fleeting facial cues of emotional expression and head orientation contribute more to social judgements than physical features. In one study, 48 participants were encouraged to go with their gut-instincts and quantify their first impressions of facial images shown for one second. Researchers aimed to establish the effects of a range of expressions for key social attributes, trustworthiness, dominance and attractiveness, and the interaction of head-orientation on the results.
The study showed that people are most affected by emotional expression in the formation of their judgements. Faces were judged as most trustworthy when expressing happiness but least when angry; most dominant when angry and least when fearful; most attractive when happy and least when angry. However, participants were also responding to a factor as subtle as how faces were viewed.
Interestingly, social impressions were amplified if the face was viewed frontally rather than by profile. This may be a vital adaption for detection of threats. Participants are demonstrating the ability to categorise emotions, whilst simultaneously judging if the emotion is directed at them. An angry expression with a direct gaze is perceived as more threatening. Whereas, a direct gaze when displaying happiness is perceived as reciprocated interest.
Other researchers have found similar findings. Particularly, human judgements of trustworthiness are especially efficient and people are able to make enduring inferences in just one tenth of a second.
Evidence suggests that impressions from photographs correspond accurately to impressions we get in the 3D of real life interaction. So, how can we use these instincts to our advantage? You may have been doing it all along. It is as simple as facing each other directly and smiling! However, it might be advised to avoid an artfully, moody selfie in future. You may accidentally be threatening cyber-space.