Nick Cave and I have something in common. We both fell in love at first sight. In “First impressions – the face bias” on Radio National’s “All in the Mind” program, they played a vignette by Nick Cave where he describes seeing his future wife for the first time where everything “came together… in one great big crash-bang. And I was lost to her. And that was that.”

It was the lead-in to the interview by the program host Lynne Malcolm of Alexander Todorov of Princeton University. Todorov is the author of Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions. Here are my key take-aways about what Lynne called “face-ism” during the interview:

  • We only need 200 milliseconds to form a judgement of a person.
  • The happier and rested we are the more likely we will be seen in a positive light.
  • We project how we feel – for example, power dressing for a meeting reflects in our facial expressions.
  • First impressions are the here and now and are likely to be wrong.
  • While first impressions count, make sure you take time to check the facts about the person you are judging.

And finally, this quote from Todorov should be poignant for all of us and those we serve:

“I often say that getting a degree in psychology is really getting a degree in modesty because you realise that there are so many things that colour our judgements, colour our decisions, and yet we seem to be blind to these viruses. We often think that we are impervious to all kinds of effects and they only apply to other humans but not to us.”

As I say very, very frequently. You and I are great decision makers, it is everyone else that seems to have a problem. LOL. 🙂