A recent study has revealed that the initial impressions we make of people from photographs strongly influences how we view them in real life.
Conducted by Gul Gunaydin, Emre Selcuk and Vivian Zayas from Cornell University, the study asked participants to judge a selection of women based on their photographs.
Participants then had to say how much they thought they might like each woman in real life, based on the images.
A few months later, participants met one of the women they were asked to judge for a 20 minute face-to-face meeting, which included a trivia game designed to help participants learn more about them.
Each participant was then asked to say how they felt about the person after meeting her.
And interestingly, the majority of those who thought favourably of the woman after seeing her photograph, also had a positive impression after the meeting.
They also tended to act more pleasantly towards her – they smiled more, gave off more positive cues and lent in more.
However, those who had a less positive impression after seeing the photograph tended to view the person less favourably after the real life meeting.
The researchers also asked participants to make judgements on their personality traits, such as “conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and openness”, based on the photographs.
And perhaps surprisingly, the majority of people noted the same traits after meeting the woman, regardless of how accurate they were.
Zayas explains: “But these findings don’t reflect that perceives accurately assessed someone’s personality. Instead, it shows that first impressions are as much based on our personal projections as to who that person really is.
“For example, two different perceives might form drastically different impressions of the same person based on a photograph.
“Then, after having an opportunity to interact with them, they continued to hold on to their drastically different impressions of the subject’s personality.
“For example, if after viewing a woman’s portrait, perceives judged her to be highly conscientious, then they were more likely to judge her as conscientious after interacting with her.
“However, if after viewing the portrait of the same woman, perceives had judged her to be impulsive, then they were more likely to judge her as impulsive after the interaction.
“The woman is still the same person—it’s the personal projections of the perceives that are different.”
The study therefore suggests that first impressions from photographs do count, as they influence the way we view the person on meeting them in real life.
A study from Princeton University also concluded the same thing – researchers asked participants to look at photographs of potential partners and say how much they wanted to date them.
They then had a session of speed dating with the people they had seen photographs of and the majority of the original impressions correlated with whether or not they wanted to date the person after meeting them.
To read more about these studies please click here.
Author Simon Edmunds
Simon is the former editor of Global Dating Insights. Born in Newcastle, he has an English degree from Queen Mary, London and after working for the NHS, trained as a journalist with the Press Association. Passionate about music, journalism and Newcastle United.