7 Decisions People Make About You in Less Than 30 Seconds

Within seconds of meeting you, new acquaintances and colleagues reach these 8 conclusions about you.

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Taylor Tobin1.84k
April 14, 2024 at 5:47PM UTC

When it comes to first impressions, most people aren’t especially interested in nuance. Instead, they make snap decisions based on a variety of factors that may or may not have any basis in truth. Even the most well-meaning and “non-judgmental” folks are prone to this habit. It's just human nature. 

According to Business Insider, people make 8 immediate choices about newly-introduced coworkers and acquaintances, a phenomenon that psychologists refer to as “thin slicing”. Minor indicators like posture, clothing selections, and hairstyles feed these perceptions. And while it’s impossible to stop your colleagues from swiftly “making up their minds” about you, knowing what drives these ideas can put you ahead of the game and help you manage first appearances. 

Here are the 8 judgements people make about you within seconds of meeting you.

1. People make a choice about your trustworthiness in a fraction of a second.

One-tenth of a second, to be exact. Psychological Science claims that a 100-millisecond exposure to a face will provide enough information to lead to a definitive conclusion, whether subconscious or fully present.

2. Your fashion sense may lead to assumptions about your “status.”

It’s no secret that wearing clothing and accessories from luxury brands makes a statement about your financial situation. But trade publication Evolution and Human Behavior takes it a step further, suggesting that carrying a Birkin bag or wearing Gucci loafers may cause those who meet you to mentally categorize you as “high status”, which can affect the way that they interact with you.

3. On a more problematic note, people tend to “decide” on your sexual orientation immediately.

It takes humans one-twentieth of a second to fully recognize and interpret facial expressions. And apparently, that’s all the time it takes for people to draw conclusions about your sexual orientation (particularly if you identify as male), according to the Journal of Experimental Psychology. 

4. A few minor behavioral habits can make people perceive you as intelligent.

While conversation is required to truly gauge a new acquaintance’s level of acumen, there are a few cues that prompt a quick “that’s a smart cookie” assessment from onlookers. The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin states that direct eye contact during introductions and expressive speech patterns correlate with perceived intelligence. Also, if you want to come across as especially intellectual, wearing glasses definitely doesn’t hurt.

5. The way you dress relates to the way that others interpret your level of “success.”

Success, of course, is a highly subjective trait, and everyone has their own mental definition. But when you meet someone for the first time, the fit of your clothing provides information about how successful you are in an empirical sense, particularly if you identify as male. Men wearing tailored outfits come across as more successful than men in baggy or ill-fitting ensembles, according to the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management.

6. Visible tattoos on women can lead to highly misogynistic and unfair judgments.

We want to preface this section by saying that women should absolutely style themselves however they like, regardless of gendered assumptions. However, Social Psychological and Personality Science did discover that people do place weight on societal stereotypes surrounding tattoos, and women with visible ink are sometimes unfairly categorized as “promiscuous”, “heavy drinkers”, — most egregiously  — “less attractive” than women sans tattoos.

7. A thirst for adventure can be communicated by the way you walk.

Your particular gait can offer up a glimpse into your personality at large, with introverts and extroverts exhibiting different movement styles. A loose, relaxed stride tells people that you’re outgoing, while quicker steps and a stiffer posture relates to perceived neurosis. 

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