The Truth Behind First Impressions

November 10, 2022
Ilana Rubenstein

North Caldwell, New Jersey, United States

Class of 2023

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We’ve all wondered what someone’s first thought about us is – the first impression that we make. 

In psychology, a first impression is the initial encounter between people which forms a mental image. First impressions are based on a wide range of characteristics: age, race, culture, language, gender, communication style, accent, physical appearance, posture, voice, etc.

The question that is continuously posed is, how important are first impressions? However, there is another question that should be answered – are first impressions really the last impression?

These two questions go hand in hand but the answer is not so simple. When people move from strangers to acquaintances to friends, they judge one another on the basis of what they see and hear. What is said and done by an individual indicates aspects about their personality that lays the foundation on which someone develops their initial impression. 

Once this foundation has been set, it becomes extremely difficult to change it. Being so, the first impression is definitely important as it becomes the base for the way in which people perceive each other. 

It is very rare that one gets a second chance at a first impression, so if you spoil your chance, you will have to work very hard and for a very long time to reconstruct your image. 

In life, a good first impression is key and can open the doors to so many other things. For example, the foundation of a great first impression will increase one’s chance of being forgiven when a mistake is made. 

On the other hand, it is said that you should never judge a book by its cover – especially when it comes to people.  Like the cover of a book, first impressions are not always as appealing as what is really there. It’s not until after you start “reading”, or get to know someone, when you really find out that what you see is not always what you get. 

More than likely, your first impression of someone is not going to be accurate. Maybe they had a rough morning or are extremely stressed. Any kind of situation can create a barrier between people thus affecting the impression that will be given off. 

The way someone wants others to perceive them also affects first impressions -- it may not reflect their true personality. Unfortunately, first impressions are merely a surface-deep “trailer” of who someone is. 

It’s not until you really get to know a person that you can better understand what kind of person they are -- their interests, values, and goals. Yes, first impressions are important. However, they should not be the last impression. 

Ilana Rubenstein is a BBG from Koach BBG in GJHRR: Northern, and she is currently serving as Council N'siah!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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