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Snap Judgments

September 11, 2006

First impressions are important, and new research shows we form them with remarkable speed.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Clocking first impressions. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Like it or not, we all judge people by their faces: not just on attractiveness, but also trustworthiness, competence, and likeability. Princeton University psychologists Alexander Todorov and Janine Willis found that people made these judgments after seeing a face for just a tenth of a second, and that their opinions didn’t change if they were given more time. Todorov says it’s possible to override these snap judgments with objective information.

ALEXANDER TODOROV (Princeton University):
The question is that in many important contexts, you might not have the chance to collect the additional information. This is a potential problem.

HIRSHON:
What’s more, people sometimes make up their minds before seeking out the facts – in contexts ranging from singles bars to job interviews to elections.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.