You can’t help it; sometimes, you just get a bad feeling about someone that’s hard to shake. So, what’s happening in your brain when you make that critical (and often lasting) first judgment? Peter Mende-Siedlecki shares the social psychology of first impressions — and why they may indicate that, deep down, people are basically good. 



Before you watch:

Replace the words in italics in the excerpt of the video with the words in bold below:

write (sb) off       traits           jerk             lasting       

harsh               avoid           encounter            clumsy          obnoxious

Imagine you’re at a football game when this 1. off-putting guy sits next to you. He’s loud, he spills his drink on you, and he makes fun of your team. Days later, you’re walking in the park when suddenly it starts to pour rain. Who should show up at your side? The same guy from the football game. Do you change your mind about him based on this second 2. meeting or do you go with your first impression and 3. ignore him? Research in social psychology suggests that we’re quick to form 4. enduring impressions of others based on their behaviours. We manage to do this with little effort, inferring stable character 5. features from a single behaviour, like a 6. cruel word or an 8. awkward step. Using our impressions as guides, we can accurately predict how people are going to behave in the future. Armed with the knowledge the guy from the football game was an 9. idiot the first time you met him, you might expect more of the same down the road. If so, you might choose to 10. steer clear of him the next time you see him.

Key: 1. obnoxious; 2. encounter; 3. write (him) off; 4. lasting; 6. traits; 7. harsh; 8. clumsy; 9. jerk; 10. avoid

Now watch the video:


  • bias – a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment; prejuduce  
  • to flip – to turn over quickly
  • rarity – the state or quality of being rare

Practice Makes Perfect

WORD FORMATION: Change the word in CAPITALS to fill in the blanks.

Faces Look More Attractive When You Pay Attention

Störmer and Alvarez wondered whether the 1. [ENHANCE] ………..effects of attention might apply not only to low-level visual properties such as 2. [BRIGHT] ……. and color, but in addition affect so called high-order properties, such as facial 3. [ATTRACTIVE] ……… . To find out, they showed pairs of faces on the left and right halves of a computer screen. The left and right faces were not aligned vertically: one was shifted upward, and the other 4. [DOWN] ……., along the screen’s vertical axis. Without moving their eyes from the center of the screen, subjects had to report the vertical shift (upward versus downward) of the face they found most attractive. To bias the subjects’ attention towards one face or another, the 5. [EXPERIMENT] ……… presented a black dot (called the cue) on just one side of the screen (left or right), selected at random.

Störmer and Alvarez reasoned that, if attention had an effect on the attractiveness 6. [JUDGE] ……….., then 7. [PARTICIPATE] …….. would pick the cued location more (or less) often than the un-cued location.

The data showed that attention indeed exerts a consistent and positive influence on perceived attractiveness (…).

Störmer and Alvarez propose that these 8. [FIND] …….. are 9. [MEANING] ……… for the perception of real-world faces, and I can’t disagree: I know from personal experience that perception of attractiveness doesn’t end with the first impression. Especially when you’ve been paying loads of attention.


Key: 1. enhancement; 2. brightness; 3. attractiveness; 4. downward; 5. experimenters; 6. judgements; 7. participants; 8. Findings; 9. Meaningful

In order to read the whole article, go to: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/illusion-chasers/faces-look-more-attractive-when-you-pay-attention/



  • What are some of the “ingredients” of a great first impression?
  • Have you ever had a bad first impression of someone, but then it turned out they were a great person? What caused that bad impression, and how did they win you over?

Explore it more to create your own teaching-learning experience!


How to Tell in Less Than 1 Minute Whether You’ve Made a Great First Impression, Backed by Science