Public Self-Awareness – First Impressions

Our public self-awareness is something we can gauge based on other’s reactions to us which is why first impressions are so important. In our society, when meeting someone for the first time, we are often judged by what we look like so our physical appearance matters. Taking effort on the image we present is important in a career setting is important. It is also important in a social setting although we may be less tense in a social setting. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on. But it certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression. (Unless you are interviewing with your local model agency, of course!).

The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says much about you to the person you are meeting. (“Making a Great First Impression,” 2009, p. 2)

Implicit, or first impressions, “are not open to self-report. They include implicit attitudes toward others, implicit knowledge structures, implicit theories, and implicit behavioral tendencies.” (Uleman, Saribay, & Gonzalez, 2008, p.331) Explicit impressions are ones that can be controlled in a conscious way.

In a study researching first impressions, participants were to form impressions of a specific individual based on what social group they belonged to and some behavior information was given. Impressions were formed based on the information provided. Half of the participants were later told that the information they were given was not correct and impression data was collected.

It was noted that clear impressions were corrected when new information was presented but unspoken impressions reflected the participant’s original beliefs. (Wyer, 2010)

When discussing first impressions what are your thoughts on the validity of the impressions we form based on our own perceptions? Do you think these can easily be changed or is it difficult to undo the first impression?


Making a Great First Impression. (2009). Retrieved from Uleman, J., Saribay, S., & Gonzalez, C. (2008).

Spontaneous inferences, implicit impressions, and implicit theories. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 329-360.
Wyer, N. (2010).

You never get a second chance to make a first (implicit) impression: The role of elaboration in the formation and revision of implicit impressions. Social Cognition, 28 (1), 1-19.

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