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Even fact will not change first impressions
Date:2/14/2014

February 14, 2014 - Knowledge is power, yet new research suggests that a person's appearance alone can trump knowledge. First impressions are so powerful that they can override what we are told about people. A new study found that even when told whether a person was gay or straight, participants generally identified the person's sexual orientation based on how they looked even if it contradicted the facts presented to them.

"We judge books by their covers, and we can't help but do it," says Nicholas Rule of the University of Toronto. "With effort, we can overcome this to some extent, but we are continually tasked with needing to correct ourselves." The less time we have to make our judgments, the more likely we are to go with our gut, even over fact, he says.

A series of recent studies, presented today at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) annual conference in Austin, shows that appearance shapes everything from whether we ultimately end up liking someone to our assessment of their sexual orientation or trustworthiness. And researchers say that whether a first impression occurs online versus in person is important. While we may be able to size up someone's personality from a Facebook photo, it will often be more negative impression than one formed face-to-face.

Appearance trumps fact

"As soon as one sees another person, an impression is formed," Rule says. "This happens so quickly just a small fraction of a second that what we see can sometimes dominate what we know."

In the study on first impressions of sexual orientation, Rule and colleagues showed 100 participants photos of 20 men, identifying them either as gay or straight. The photos had been previously coded based on a consensus opinion on whether the men "looked" gay or straight, which accurately matched to their real-life sexual orientations. The researchers then tested participants' recall of the men's sexual orientations s
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Contact: Lisa M.P. Munoz
spsp.publicaffairs@gmail.com
703-951-3195
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Source:Eurekalert

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