The Key to Understanding First Impressions

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Dr. Lynda

Have you ever made a quick assumption that was so wrong that it led to a terrible embarrassment or upset? We’ve all done it, and there’s a reason for that.

Image: Woman holding glasses to her face with sparklers coming out to the lenses
Source: Suus Wansink // Flickr

It turns out that our brains are hardwired to jump to conclusions, make connections from past experiences, and use prior knowledge in milliseconds for good reason. Luckily though, our brain has a second way of processing the world that may keep us a little more grounded. These two ways of thinking, fast thinking and slow thinking, combine and compliment eachother to process the world in different ways.

A wonderful source for brief insights like this, called AsapScience, has explained the assets and drawbacks to first impressions by telling us how our brains work in less than 5 minutes. (No small feat!)

Let’s dig into how our marvelous brains work, so maybe we can get a handle on our perspective and impulses from here on out:

Understanding First Impressions

So can we control our initial assumptions and impulses? Well no, we actually can’t. But it sounds like we can understand them and let another part of our brain control our reactions.

What a great bit of insight!

I suspect the next time I react too impulsively, or someone around me does, I will be a lot more thoughtful about my responses!

What if everyone knew about this?

There are some articles that we write here at EWC (Ever Widening Circles) that just make us immediately ask, “What if everyone knew about this!”

This could be very empowering. How much better might our police, doctors, and politicians be if many of them stopped acting from those initial impulses in their brains? How might we raise our children differently if both we knew this was the way our brains worked?

All food for thought!

I guess all we can do is start with the person in the mirror.

Stay open, curious and optimistic!

~ Dr. Lynda

Want to see more insights and innovation?

If you liked this article, we suggest you check out a great TED Talk about what fear can teach us with Karen Thompson. It’s all about those initial impulses and the stories we then tell ourselves. It’s one of my very favorite insights, ever!

Additionally, if you want to see our curated list of the most interesting TED Talks, check out our Best of TED page for some of our favorites, or you can check out all of the TED Talks we have featured!

Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

To stay with this train of thought, just scroll down this page and dive into one of the articles down there that I can recommend.

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