top of page
  • Writer's pictureMarie

It only takes a second - To make a first impression

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. In the blink of an eye someone you have just met has already made certain judgments on your personality, your character and your level of competence.

First published back in 2006, Princeton psychologists, Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov presented their research in their article “First Impressions,” in the July issue of Psychological Science. They revealed that it took only a tenth of a second to form that first impression.

Their research focussed on how we judge one another through the lens of different traits including attractiveness, likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness. The participants were shown photographs of unfamiliar faces for 100 milliseconds (1/10 of a second), 500 milliseconds (half a second), or 1,000 milliseconds (a full second). In a separate group, different participants were not given any time constraints and judged the same pictures.

Participants were asked to judge the faces against the traits and then also rate their level of confidence in the judgement. There were some definite consistency between the different groups on their judgements and it appeared that judgments were made pretty quickly and did not change, even if more time was provided.

The two traits which were assessed instantaneously were trustworthiness and attractiveness. Judging the trustworthiness of others quickly has evolved due to our instincts and need to survive.

If you want to make a good first impression, smile and have an open warm welcoming body language - and when looking at the face, your expressions make the first impression. In “The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals,” Charles Darwin proposed that facial expressions evolved to quickly communicate emotional states important to social survival. He hypothesized that certain facial expressions are innate, and therefore universally expressed and recognized across all cultures.

My favourite researcher whose work I have studied is Dr. Paul Ekman. In a nutshell he examined cross-cultural studies of non-verbal behaviour. After studying suicidal patients who lied about being depressed, he identified micro muscle expressions which revealed the attempts to hide strong negative feelings. His main work was in Papua New Guinea. He invited the locals to match American facial expressions in alignment with some emotional stories presented by an interpreter. In turn, he also photographed their emotions to show people back in the US. This cemented the research that facial expressions are universal. Even blind people display the same spontaneous expressions.

Some tips for making a great first impression is to be happy, both inside and out. When you focus on happiness triggers then these will be reflected in your face. Know what gives you pleasure - entertain all of your five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, sound). Think positive thoughts and be kind and compassionate. Think funny things and enjoy seeing the humour in situations. Acknowledge your achievements and feel connected to yourself as well as others.

Following the advise of the above will mean that you will be smiling, really smiling which means that you smile with your eyes and not your mouth. Bring awareness to your posture and stand upright feeling elevated.

Marie is a qualified Master Practitioner and Teacher in Face Reading, Psychosomatic Therapy and NLP. With more than 15 years of experience, Marie brings a unique blend of skill and discernment into these untapped spiritual disciplines. Marie offers inspirational insights into your inner self and personal potential. Reach out to Marie via

" My passion is to make a difference to people, empowering them to be their best. This can be achieved by increasing their self awareness,

and maintaining a bodymind balance."

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page