Learn the Social Science of Managing Impressions

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis

By the time you finish reading this sentence, it will have made an impression on you.

Should you read further? Of course, because you want to be well informed. Should you read to the end? Please do, because it's being written just for you. Will you learn anything of value? Certainly, you will gain insight into the manipulative world of "impression management."

You do it yourself -- and have it done to you -- every day, at home, at work, at school, in stores and restaurants, especially by advertisers.

What prompts the issue now is a recent Wall Street Journal report on a new research study that shows people are registering their likes and dislikes in as little as 1/20th of a second.

That seemed harsh. It also seemed unlikely to Flagler College psychology professor Joseph Vlah in St. Augustine. He seriously doubts that any study discovered that our brains are running any faster than before, so he sticks with the mainstream belief that first impressions form in four to six seconds. Impression management is common sense. It's also social psychology, which Vlah enjoys so much he's taught it for 20 years.

Here are some ways to manage the impressions you make, and those people make on you:.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Mom and Dad are correct. First impressions can last a lifetime. Smile, dress nicely, groom yourself, make eye contact, be polite, shine your shoes. "Once I make a good impression on you, you view everything else about me in a positive light, and it would be hard for me to ever lose your respect and affection because you don't want to hear negative things about me," Vlah explains. Whether you're on a job interview or making a sale, "if I can make you like me, if I can make you feel good, then whatever else I want from you is far more likely to occur. …