5 psychological strategies to reverse a bad first impression

6/6/2016
Shana Lebowitz

Within seconds of meeting you, people decide whether you're smart, trustworthy, and successful.

So if you're heading into a job interview or a first date, you'd better hope you don't have snot in your nose or a pizza stain on your shirt.

Let's face it though: Snot and pizza are facts of life, and bad first impressions are bound to be made.

Fortunately, using a little bit of psychological savvy, it's often possible to reverse those impressions. Here, we rounded up five tricks to overcome people's initial evaluations of you.

But hey — bring a napkin, just in case.

1. Allow them to reinterpret your behavior more positively

Up until recently, scientists believed that it was possible to reverseexplicit evaluations — i.e. our tendency to agree with the statement, "I don't like that person" — but it was a lot harder to reverse implicitevaluations — i.e. the deep-seated likes and dislikes that we aren't necessarily aware of.

Then, in 2015, a pair of researchers at Cornell University found that it was possible to completely change implicit evaluations by giving someone information that put the person's actions in a new context.

In a series of experiments, the researchers had participants read about a man who broke into a house and took precious objects. Unsurprisingly, participants expressed their dislike for him. Even when the researchers gave participants additional information, like the fact that the man had once saved a baby from an oncoming train, participants still didn't like him.

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