when we see a person for the first time, a certain impression forms itself in us. The first impression gives other people a clue to the personality pattern of the observed individual.
We then Form a judgment about a person on the basis of first impression and this is referred to as the halo error of judgment.
Subsequent observations and further contacts with the individual may strengthen and enrich a first impression or they may upset them.
A first impression may be based for example on physical appearance, facial features or expression, gestures, dress name, nationality, race, what the person says and how he says it. And what he does and how he does it.
A person may deliberately wear certain kinds of clothes that will create the impression that they want to give.
Use of certain words on somebody may be viewed positively or negatively.
Such words as sincere, honest, dependable and warm are liked by most people while thought less, rude, spiteful, and phony are disliked because they are associated with disliked characteristics.
FIRST IMPRESSION AND REPUTATION
once an impression of an individual has been formed, the individual gains the reputation of belonging to a certain personality type. Any judgment made on this person in future will be based on the reputation he/she may have gained. It is evident from studies which have been carried out that social acceptance and prejudice are difficult to change once a reputation has been gained from first impression.
An Individual may later change his behavior but that doesn’t guarantee that the reputation he has acquired will automatically change. Only when attitudes of others towards him change will his reputation change.
This point is proved further by the fact that it has been difficult to improve the social acceptance if rejected and neglected children.
Children who are disliked are avoided by their peers and without direct contact with the disliked children, the peers have no opportunity to get to know them better and develop more favorable attitudes towards them.
In the case of minority group which may be the victim of prejudice, it becomes difficult to combat the prejudice unless the prejudiced person voluntarily has pleasant contacts with the prejudicing group.
Some concerns about first impressions may be expressed in the adolescent who may spend almost one hour at the mirror before she goes visiting a friend just to ensure that she appears attractive and likable to others.
In the case of adults it may appear when a person avoids community organizations or even refuses to attend church because they don’t have the kind of clothes they would prefer to wear.
Adults may also resent clothes which are associated with old age. The reason is that old age is associated with certain social prejudices such as being conservative, slow, rigid and probably too old to learn anything new.