Here's the science behind first impressions — and how to make up for a bad one.

First impressions are more important than you probably realize, and here's why.

This is Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, and she's going to help us understand why first impressions are so important.

GIFs from Big Think.


Dr. Grant Halvorson is a social psychologist and associate director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia Business School. In a recent video for Big Think, she took a look at confirmation bias — what it is, how it works, and how to overcome it.

Confirmation bias is the brain's tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs.

Confirmation bias is something that affects us all. It's why people typically consume news that reinforces what we already (think we) know. It's why in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there are people who believe climate change is a myth or that vaccines cause autism. It's why we're so sure that Brad from the finance department is a jerk — ugh, Brad.

But it's the primacy effect that explains why our brains really emphasize the first information we receive about a person or topic.

The primacy effect is kind of like the overzealous sibling of confirmation bias. It's why our first hunch about someone or something tends to stick with us. Our brains don't like feeling unsure, so they put a lot of weight on early impressions.

You know how people stress the importance of first impressions?

Here's why they're right, according to science: Thanks to the primacy effect and confirmation bias, first impressions get a whole lot of weight when it comes to how we perceive (and are perceived by) other people.

Luckily, there are a couple of ways to overcome a bad first impression.

The first method of overcoming a bad first impression is to prove that impression wrong over an extended time.

It's not as simple as a one-time friendly encounter. To overcome the bad impression, it could take weeks or even months to override both primacy effect and confirmation bias.

The second method is to find a way to work closely with the person you've left a bad first impression with.

Dr. Grant Halvorson suggests finding a way to work with the person — for example, working on a group project where all people involved have clear responsibilities and expectations to help override first impressions.

Why? When someone else has a direct impact on our own outcome, our brains will naturally want to make sure the first impression we got was an accurate one rather than simply sticking with that first impression.

Of course, the best route is to put your best foot forward and give an accurate representation of who you are.

While you can't control how others perceive you, you can make sure you're offering up a genuine version of yourself to people you meet.

Keep all this in mind the next time you're meeting with new coworkers, acquaintances, or anyone, really.

We all have biases, but we can fight them by acknowledging and understanding them.

For more on this topic from Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, watch the full video below.

Family

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

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Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

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