Magazine article Psychology Today

Sometimes You Can Judge

Magazine article Psychology Today

Sometimes You Can Judge

Article excerpt

EVERY FACE IS A BATTLEGROUND FOR INSTINCT VERSUS BIAS

WHEN YOU LIVE a cliché without knowing you are doing so- without even knowing what a cliché is- then you are probably enacting some fundamental rite of humanity.

As a semiliterate schoolgirl, I was drawn to my father's books about the Soviet Union by their titles alone. I relished the chance to judge books by their covers. The titles rolled around in my head: Why Lenin? Why Stalin? (I scanned this as a plaintive cry rather than a historical question); The Gulag Archipelago; and most alluring of all, Cities and Years, by Konstantin Fedin. This phrase was hopelessly melancholy to my young ears- what is life but a finite procession of places and faces? The titles trumpeted something essential, though I could barely process the facts within their pages.

And so it goes with first impressions about our own packaging. We look at a face and glean one or two critical cues from it, often without consciously knowing how - or even what those cues are. (The cover story "What's in a Face" will answer these questions.) It is not superficial to notice a person's lantern jaw or supple skin tone, because such attributes convey important information. In high-stakes moments especially, we know more than we know.

And yet we project almost as much as we intuit, onto people and books alike. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.