You get less than one second to make a favorable first impression.
Research from Alexander Todorov, a professor of psychology at Princeton, has shown that people can make judgments about someone’s likeability, trustworthiness, and competence after seeing their face for less than a tenth of a second.
According to Todorov, as a face becomes happier, a person becomes more trustworthy.
If such information bothers you, there are some things you can do to help yourself become more likable, says Jack Schafer, a psychologist and retired FBI special agent turned likeability coach.
Our bodies are always looking for “friend or foe signals,” says Schafer. Therefore, when meeting someone new Schafer advises we do the following:
- a fast up and down eyebrow flash,
- a slight head tilt, and
- a smile.
Making quick judgments may seem shallow, but we all do it. Furthermore, research proves such assessments carry long-term implications, from affecting elections to financial decisions:
- One study showed that facial appearance could be used to predict the outcome of elections to the US Senate.
- In another experiment, borrowers who were perceived as looking less trustworthy were less likely to get loans.
Thankfully, God’s doesn’t rely on first impressions when He looks at us.
God’s viewpoint of us – and His perspective of time – is entirely different. God not only likes us but also loves us! He created us and sees our whole life at once. He looks at our present, past (including the mistakes we try hard to hide) – and most importantly, our future. We need to remember that all our days were written in His book before one came to pass (Psalm 139:16). God looks at the big picture, and He is patient with everyone (2 Peter 3:9).
Consider these examples:
- David became king of Israel because “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
- People in the early church did not initially trust Paul. However, Jesus knew the former terrorist would become an outstanding evangelist (Acts 9:1-31).
- Rahab was a prostitute before God changed the direction of her life, writing her name into the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).
- Mary Magdalene, who was healed of seven demons (Luke 8:2), got the privilege of announcing Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:11-18).
If God doesn’t make hasty decisions about us but considers our entire lifetime, perhaps we should pause before judging others. While we’re at it, we should also cut ourselves some slack.
Now is a good time to exhale, look at how far we’ve come, and believe there is hope for our future (Jeremiah 29:11).
In the movie Wonder, an inspiring story about a boy named August “Auggie” Pullman who was born with facial differences, there is a beautiful conversation between mother and son.
“We all have marks on our face,” says Isabel, Auggie’s mom.
Pointing toward her heart, she tells Auggie: “This is the map that shows us where we’re going.” Then pointing to her face adds, “This is the map that shows us where we’ve been.”
We all have marks on our face and life that can affect first impressions, but we must never underestimate the power of God’s grace in shaping who we will become.
Author: Laura Lacey Johnson