What Parts Of The Face Contribute To A First Impression?

Within the realm of studying facial features, new research has just revealed that certain areas of the face can directly impact a person's first impressions of you. Of course, most folks think judging another person they just met is as simple as taking note of a smile or frown, or a look in their eyes that might indicate if they are easygoing or insincere, but apparently there's a lot more going on than they may be aware.

How can we decide within less than a second if a person is trustworthy, dominant, or attractive? Studies suggest that such judgement are made automatically, probably outside of people's conscious control. Slight variations in how an individual face is viewed can lead people to develop significantly different first impressions of that individual.

Now a team of scientists conducted a study using 1,000 photos of faces and monitored the reactions of the participants, gathering up info on what they looked at first and the instant impressions they had about the people they were looking at. Then they fed this data into a computer system that mimics the human brain so it could identify which facial features most influence first perceptions, scientists say. These findings could lead to computer programs that automatically see which photographs would help people give their best first impressions.

Tom Hartley, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of York, in England, stated, "It's useful to know how we're being judged on our appearance, especially since these judgments might not be accurate."

He went on to say that people tend to go too far with their judgments during first impressions.

"For instance, someone with a young-looking face is jusged to have other immature characteristics. Evidence is clear that often judging a book by its cover is just plain wrong, but we all do it."
There are some features of the face that we cannot control, such as the shape of our skull, the size of the head, or other such structures, and some which people have resorted to having changed surgically, but that's an unnecessary measure when discussing first impression.

The computer model broke the face down into 65 different features, such as the shae of the jaw, mouth, eyes, cheekbones or eyebrows. Then the program was instructed to discover what features were important during a first encounter. It seems the shape and location of the mouth indicate approachability, with a smile being more likely to indicate a positive likelihood. Eye-shape and placement aided with the youthful-attractive impressions, while the likelihood of dominance was linked to eyebrow height, cheekbones, and the color and textures associated with either masculinity or a healthy or tanned overall appearance.

Many of the traits mentioned above can be positioned in a photograph in a positive manner, making an image more appealing and thus helping that face make a better first impression to online viewers. In effect, if you change the way you place your head or how you look at the camera, it will change how people first see you.

At this point, the researchers studied only the faces of caucasian to make sure that there would be no complications of different races causing different reactions. Hartley explained, "We know that people process faces of other ethnicities differently from their own--this might be because of cultural stereotypes, but also more sublte things such as the level of experience we have with different kinds of variation in the face."

They are now conducting different racial studies to compare the results on those as well, to see if different races might possibly look for different areas upon first meeting others, and eventually how this might change in cross-cultural combinations.

The eventual aim is to be able to help someone to convey the exact impression they want their photograph to give immediately, thus making the first impression they desire. This outcome may be a little ways off, but it could certainly help on business sites, and probably even personal ones like dating sites or other social media sites.

Here's an interesting video recently posted in another Inquisitr article that might surprise you. Apparently chewing gum might make a better first impression than one would have thought.

[Photo Credit: © gemenacom / Fotolia]