How Your Face Shapes Our First Impression

Surprised Face

We are said to form an opinion of someone within a fraction of a second of meeting them. While the reality is a little bit more complicated than that, the meme does nonetheless underline the numerous, and often subtle, ways in which we judge our peers (and they us).

See Also: Can Your Face Shape Really Determine Your Career Success?

Of course, the challenge is understanding just what kind of instant first impression we are in fact giving off. A recent paper might be able to help us in our quest. It reveals how the rapid first impressions we so often make can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy by nothing more than the physical features of our face. What’s more, this even applies to the virtual world of social media.

The research team plundered a number of regular photographs from the Internet and began to analyse the physical features of each of the faces.  Each of the 1,000 or so faces was described using 65 different facial features, including eyebrow width or eye height. This data was then used to compile a computer model that they believe can provide an accurate prediction as to how we will react should we meet such a person.

Of course, when the process was set in reverse, the authors were also able to create a kind of perfect face for creating a great first impression.

How we make first impressions

The research revealed that our initial judgements of a person tend to be around three dimensions:

  1. How approachable is the person?
  2. Will they try and help us or harm us?
  3. Would they make a good sexual partner (or indeed rival)?

The data revealed that there are very specific kinds of facial features that underpin either a favourable or unfavourable first impression and that this instant decision making has a scientific basis. They believe that their results can help to shed some light into the livelihoods and talents of people who make their living on such quick decision making, whether they’re casting directors or portrait photographers.

“Showing that even supposedly arbitrary features in a face can influence people’s perceptions suggests that careful choice of a photo could make (or break) others’ first impressions of you,” the authors say.

“We make first impressions of others so intuitively that it seems effortless - I think it’s fascinating that we can pin this down with scientific models. I’m now looking at how these first impressions might change depending on different cultural or gender groups of perceivers or faces,” they continue.

While the notion that we do make such snap judgements about people is not groundbreaking, the actual workings of the brain that underpin this are much less well understood. It’s hoped that this study will provide some interesting insight into the process.

See Also: Not Just a Pretty Face: Intelligence Perceived Accurately in Men but Not Women

As to whether we can actually do much about our facial features, you may not be in so much luck. At least with findings such as this, however, you may be able to understand why people react to your face the way they do.

Do you think that you have been hired or turned down for a job because of your facial features? Your thoughts and comments below please...


Modeling first impressions from highly variable facial images




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