The First Ten Seconds



A red chair stands out among a line of white chairs.

Paige Smith, Editor

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 10 seconds. That’s how long it is speculated that it takes to form an opinion on someone. Oftentimes, this judgment is subconscious. Humans make daily subconscious decisions without even realizing it. One of the biggest decisions people make is first impressions. Ask any hiring manager and they would agree, first impressions matter. It’s the first snap judgment that someone can make of another person. However, society has questioned whether or not first impressions matter. 

First impressions are the first thoughts that pass through someone’s mind upon meeting someone new. According to research, “It only takes the duration of an eye blink to size up another person in terms of attractiveness and trustworthiness,” said author Frank Schab. 

While many agree attractiveness isn’t important as a quality, it is used to make an impression of someone. First impressions can be based on looks, personality, eye contact, smiling, attitude, dress, walk, and behavior. Oftentimes the first traits that someone will notice are the face, the eyes, and mouth. 

Those items are what people first notice. But do they really matter? “First impressions are often based on personal experiences,” said Daily Mail journalist Daisy Dunne. Students at Taylorsville disagree with research. “To an extent. They’re not accurate but you make them subconsciously whether you like it or not so it’s important to understand how you use your first impressions,” said senior Joshua Speth. While senior Addy Smith counters with, “Yes and no. I’d say yes because a lot of people want to get a first impression of you and they see that as who you are. But certain people have a first impression that can change.”

Furthermore, impressions hold a lot of power. While both Speth and Smith regard first impressions as malleable, impressions hold power. When asked about the first impressions of their teachers, both Speth and Smith agreed that they had accurate impressions. However, junior Shelamay Rico says, “Mrs. Borrowman gets a bad rep and that was kinda my first impression of her.” Thus, a person’s reputation or more accurately gossip can impact first impressions. 

When asked why humans make such rapid judgments concerning others, students had varying opinions. “I think it’s human nature to make a judgment when you first meet someone. Or just in general when you first meet someone because you want to protect yourself from a bad relationship,” says Speth. 

While Rico countered with, “we’re trying to find similarities and find out all information that we can.” 

Smith’s opinion found the middle ground, “It’s our way to form some kind of an opinion. You immediately make connections. It’s something we as humans just naturally do. You’re not gonna see someone and just have a blank mind.”

First impressions matter. The time-old phrase, better to be overdressed than under, probably has more meaning than it’s given credit for. The first thoughts when meeting someone are what we’ve been conditioned to think. The second thought is what defines someone. And it is how people use that second thought that matters for first impressions are not easily forgotten.