Do you make snap judgments? Do you jump to conclusions?
When you’re at a party, a bar, deciding where to sit on a bus, serving a customer, interviewing someone, meeting your new boss, meeting staff as their new boss, watching new neighbours move in – how long does it takes you to ‘sum someone up’? What if you see the face of an alleged criminal on the television? And how long does it take when you meet your daughter’s new boyfriend or your boyfriend’s new girl? Two minutes? Ten minutes? Think again.
I am sure you would say you make a considered decision and don’t rush to conclusions. You might say: ‘I always give someone the benefit of the doubt’. But we all know it doesn’t work like that – and the science appears to back up what really happens.
What the science says
According to some research published in the Journal of Psychological Science by Professor Alex Todorov of Princeton University, it takes us less than 1/10th of a second to decide if we trust someone or not. We respond intuitively to faces so rapidly that our reasoning minds may not have time to influence our reaction. And our intuitions about attraction and trust are among those we form the fastest.
“The link between facial features and character may be tenuous at best, but that doesn’t stop our minds from sizing other people up at a glance,” says Todorov, “We decide very quickly whether a person possesses many of the traits we feel are important, such as likeability and competence, even though we have not exchanged a single word with them. It appears that we are hard-wired to draw these inferences in a fast, unreflective way.”
Trustworthiness and fear are connected
Why does this happen? Can we change our reaction? [Read more…]