New Study Shows How Hard It Is to Shake a Bad First Impression

Jul 27, 2016, by Dr. Becky Coats

According to a new study released by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, it’s a lot harder to shake a bad first impression than it is to sour a good one.

This reminds of how vital it is to make a good first impression, which depends a great deal on an attractive smile.

Why It’s Hard to Shake a Bad Impression

Researchers wanted to determine how people form character judgments about individuals, and how those judgments change over time in response to new information about an individual. They hoped to understand how long it takes for people to perceive a change in moral character, such as if a person has reformed or “broken bad.”

A beautiful smile can create a good first impression

To study this, they created a series of fictional characters and stories about them to reflect the moral dilemmas people face in everyday life, with the characters acting either morally or immorally. People read these stories about characters and made judgments about how they felt about the characters. It took only a few instances of bad behavior before a character was considered immoral. When they stopped behaving badly, they were still considered immoral, and it took many more instances of good behavior before the character was perceived as having reformed.

Researchers say this shows why people can find it hard to give up a negative impression that they’ve formed of someone.

Does This Really Relate to Your Smile?

You might be wondering whether this aspect of moral judgment is actually influenced by your smile. We’d like to believe that it isn’t, that our deeds are judged on their own merit. But the truth is that, yeah, your appearance matters when people are making moral judgments about you.

For example, if you have a smile that is unattractive, with discolored teeth, crooked teeth, chipped teeth, and other minor defects in appearance, people make judgments that go far beyond your appearance. You are judged to be less friendly, less kind, and less sensitive to other people when your smile is unattractive, according to a study done by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

And that’s not the only instance. If you commit a crime and you’re taken before a jury, your appearance influences the moral judgment that jurors make about you. It’s called the “halo effect,” and it means that jurors are more likely to deliver a harsh sentence to an unattractive defendant than an attractive one. That’s because it’s easier for jurors to imagine an unattractive defendant is also immoral.

And a study conducted by researchers at the University of York discovered that your smile significantly impacts how much people perceive you as being trustworthy. If that’s not a moral judgment, I don’t know what is.

Your Smile Is Essential to a Great First Impression

So if you’re looking to avoid the uphill climb of recovering from an initial bad impression, your smile can make a big difference. That’s because your smile carries a lot of visual weight, it takes up about 60% of your face’s visual weight, a concept that measures where the eyes will focus on an image.

And when surveyed about what they remember from a person, 48% said that a smile is a person’s most memorable feature, almost twice as much as those who said it was what people say (25%).

So if you’re looking to make a great first impression, a smile makeover would be a great place to start.

If you’re considering a smile makeover in the Dallas area, please call (817) 481-6888 today for an appointment with cosmetic dentist Dr. Becky Coats at Grapevine Dental Care today.