“At times you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself,” wrote Alan Alda.
Indeed, the quick judgements we make using our intuition are often more telling of our own nature than that of the other person.
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What judgements do you make unconsciously when you first shake someone’s hand? And what, exactly, are they trying to figure out about you?
Here are 7 things most of us decide about someone within ten seconds:
Are you conscientious?
Does your gut sometimes tell you that someone’s probably a lazy blob? A very hard worker? As it turns out, your instincts may be right on the mark. According to a University of Liverpool study, most people are able to gauge someone’s level of conscientiousness surprisingly well just by looking at a picture of their face. In person, we are offered additional clues. Did you arrive on time? Are you prepared for the meeting? Don’t take these details lightly. People are watching.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
According to a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, this trait can be accurately assessed by most people in under a second. Again, this was based only off pictures of the participants. We are given much more information when we meet someone face to face. Do they approach us, or wait for someone else to make a move? Do they smile widely and laugh loudly? Are they more reserved and observant? This is an easy personality trait to gauge, and a very useful one in choosing how to interact.
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Are you religious?
Shockingly, people were able to guess this with a fairly strong level of accuracy – again, based only on pictures. A study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology showed participants full-body photographs of people with their natural posture and facial expressions. When asked to rate their religiosity, participants were able to do so with a surprising level of accuracy. Typically, the people they thought to be more religious presented themselves as neat, relaxed, conventionally dressed, well-groomed, and smiling.
Are you aggressive?
Do some guys simply look more passive or aggressive to you? It’s not just in your head. Facial structure has long been linked to levels of aggression in males. In fact, a passive or aggressive to you? It’s not just in your head. Facial structure has long been linked to levels of aggression in males. In fact, a Canadian experiment found that women were able to accurately assess levels of aggression in males – again, based only on their picture. They were able to do this in less than a second. If you have an aggressive face, though, it isn’t all bad news. Aggression, especially in men, is often linked to power and success – as long as you watch your attitude.
Are you adventurous?
Unlike the other traits, this one has little to do with how we look. It’s all in how we move. A study published by Science Direct asked people to judge the level of adventure others were comfortable with simply by watching them walk. Overwhelmingly, the participants judged those with longer, looser gaits to be more adventurous. Interestingly, they were overwhelmingly wrong. For the first time on this list, we are warned not to trust our instincts.
Are you smart?
A fascinating study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information explored the following question: What does it take for one to look intelligent? Interestingly enough, it has little to do with actually being intelligent. Rather, it has more to do with confidence. People who held eye contact while speaking were judged to be much more intelligent than those who did not. Other studies suggest that wearing thick glasses can also help.
Are you trustworthy?
Princeton researchers gave one group of participants less than a second to view each subject before rating them on a list of personality traits. These included both trustworthiness and attractiveness. Another group was given all the time they needed. Again, these assessments were based solely on a picture. There was almost no difference between the two groups when it came to ratings of trustworthiness. In fact, they were more likely to disagree on whether or not someone was attractive. Were they accurate in their assessments? Who could know? All we can be sure of is that they made them quickly, and they stuck with their instincts even when given more time.
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Ten seconds is not a very long time. Suppose you misjudge someone. Suppose they do the same to you. Don’t worry! We all make errors when assessing other people. This is why it’s so very important to keep an open mind. As Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”