Post a description of a time when you were certain your first impression of someone you had just met was accurate, only to discover subsequently that you were mistaken. Describe how social psychology theory explains this phenomenon.
First Impressions and how Social Psychology Theory Explains it
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a slow time during the Thanksgiving festival last year. At the time, my father decided that since we would not be inviting family from all over, as it was tradition, we would make it into a neighbourhood Thanksgiving. While inviting our neighbours over, I bumped into one of our new neighbours on the block, Henry Gibbins, in the kitchen while he conversed with my mother. As I walked into the kitchen, he went silent with no eye contact, and as soon as I left the kitchen, he got back to the conversation. I overheard part of the conversation where Mr. Gibbins talked about Mrs. Billings’ hospitalization while describing how she looked to be reeling in pain when he visited her. By that snippet of the conversation, I assumed that Mr. Gibbins was a gossip, only to find out later that he, as a doctor in the hospital where Mrs. Billings was, was pleading with us to visit Mrs. Billings and offer blood donations for her upcoming surgery. I was mortified, having learned this later on.
According to the social psychology theory, individuals make first impressions based on traits, beliefs, and non-verbal cues from people one meets. Aronson et al. (2019) state that the traits that one is taught to have from birth or through parenting help us interpret social cues. Some of these traits include openness and being sociable is part of these traits that show individuals to be social. Dexter et al. (2006) agree with this, reiterating that non-verbal behavior adds to first impressions on individuals. Therefore, Mr. Gibbins silence when I walked into the room and continually talking about someone else’s condition without their consent triggered my perception that he was a gossip.
Increasing my reason for the first impression of Mr. Gibbins was his lack of eye contact on top of his silence when I walked into the kitchen (Sirin & Villalobos, 2011). As an adaptive response, Mr. Gibbins went silent because of his confidential status of revealing information to children that would later get conveyed in the right channels.
Conclusively, Mr. Gibbins went silent and did not keep eye contact as a way to remain confidential when I walked into the kitchen. However, my perception of this is that he was a gossip, furthering my first impression that was later in the day debunked when properly explained.
Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Sommers, S. (2019). • Chapter 4, “Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People.” In Social psychology. Pearson.
Dexter, H. R., Penrod, S., Linz, D., & Saunders, D. (2006). Attributing Responsibility to Female Victims After Exposure to Sexually Violent Films1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27(24), 2149–2171. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1997.tb01645.x
Sirin, C. V., & Villalobos, J. D. (2011). Where Does the Buck Stop? Applying Attribution Theory to Examine Public Appraisals of the President. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 41(2), 334–357. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-5705.2011.03857.x