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Impression Management – Claims of First Impressions

Essay by   •  March 11, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  2,150 Words (9 Pages)  •  566 Views

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Impression Management – Claims of First Impressions

Introduction

Impression management is the process one goes through to communicate the impression they want others to have of them. Across various contexts, such as social settings, roommate situations, business settings, and classroom settings, even while watching a movie, first impressions are constantly being formed. First impressions are important to our everyday interactions, which is largely based off how one communicates, either verbally or nonverbally. There is a skill in communication to being able to understand and manage the impressions that one may want to portray on to others. The strategies used to achieve the desired impression will depend on the goal in mind. Some claims that have been formed about impressions are that first impressions are lasting impressions and can help predict outcomes of relationships, proper introduction styles and nonverbal cues are an important part in forming good first impressions, and first impressions are influencing in many different settings. The study of first impressions can greatly guide individuals to alter their own behaviors and allow them to create their best possible impression by using impression management. Since impressions are lasting and is a huge part of creating interpersonal relationships, it is important that individuals make positive impressions in all situations.

First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions and Can Help Predict Relationship Outcomes

Over time, opinions of a person have the ability to change as the relationship develops. However, it has been found that once an impression has been made it is not easily forgotten (Horan & Houser, 2012). Initially while meeting someone, we organize them into a certain mental category based on previous assumptions made about that person. If those assumptions are proven to be true, or other assumptions are formed during the first encounter, the first impression whether positive or negative will always be associated with that person. Supported by the Predicted Outcome Value Theory, which is a theory that supports the fact that initial impressions can be predictive of relational outcomes and lasting impressions, the claim of  first impressions are lasting impressions and can help predict relationship outcomes was proven. (Marek, Knapp, & Wanzer, 2004) and (Horan & Houser, 2012). First impressions shape our views of people, and we judge people off them even if it’s subconsciously.

A study was conducted by Monahan and Zuckerman about the unconscious responses from conversational participants and observers was where the researchers learned that unconscious negative interactions lead to negative impressions, and unconscious positive interactions lead to positive impressions (Monahan & Zuckerman, 1999). The Predicted Outcome Value theory correlates with Monahan and Zuckerman’s study that confirms the initial claim about first impressions. Another study using the Predicted Outcome Value theory was used by Marek, Knapp and Wanzer demonstrating introductions and lasting impressions. This study applies the Predicted Outcome Value theory to the first impressions of roommates. They reiterate that first impressions are lasting, and that initial interactions, whether positive or negative help determine the likelihood of whether living with that roommate again is the future (Marek, Knapp, & Wanzer, 2004). Positive first interactions with the roommates generally lead to positive lasting relationships, and negative interactions lead to less positive relationships and relationships with shorter duration. Marek, Knapp and Wanzer’s study leads in to the claim that proper introduction styles and nonverbal cues are important in forming good first impressions.

Proper Introduction Styles and Nonverbal Cues Are An Important Part In Forming Good First Impressions

Previous assumptions can exist before actually meeting someone, but there is still the initial introduction. If someone is introduced in a proper way, possibly using mediators and give a positive vibe to those around them, the interaction will result in a positive lasting impression (Pillet-Shore, 2011). Contrastingly, if mediators in introduction situations do not follow social norms, and give off a negative vibe, the people meeting will more likely get a negative impression of them from the first initial interaction. There is also the factor of nonverbal cues that are given off by both the mediator and the two people being introduced to one another that impact the initial impression. Hiemstra states, that people believe what is done nonverbally, over what is said when forming first impressions (Hiemstra, 1999). The most important nonverbal cues when first interacting with someone is the handshake and eye contact impact  the impression the most.

There was a study the analyzed the impact on the naturally occurring introductions, social introductions, and the desire for reduction of uncertainty through interaction (Pillet-Shore, 2011). The findings show that the way someone is introduced, whether it is with the help of a mediator such as a mutual friend, or through the direct assertion of the unknown parties, impacts the first impression of that person (Pillet-Shore, 2011). The use of a mediator prevents awkward encounters and follows most closely with social norms, making it more acceptable. The findings of this article conclude that the way an introduction is built impacts the interaction between two new acquaintances. It is important to know how to introduce individuals when they are meeting for the first time, in order to form the best impression possible.

Hiemstra’s research was done in a business setting, which allowed the indicated that being knowledgeable of one’s own nonverbal communication can be very useful in tailoring one’s own first impressions and can also help draw conclusions about others. Other research also supports the fact that nonverbal cues, such as ones eye contact and handshake, are even more important than the verbal communication in first interactions (Hiemstra, 1999).  In this study results showed that when verbal and nonverbal communications contradict, people tend to believe the nonverbal. Being aware of the different nonverbal cues and being a good encoder and decoder can help one’s own impression management and will help in forming positive impressions in all settings.

First Impressions Are Influencing In Many Different Settings

On the first day of class, during the first teacher student encounter, if a positive vibe was given to the students, it would lead to a more positive first impression and a more positive attitude throughout the duration class (Hayward, 2003). Horan and Hauser were able to confirmed this conclusion about the impact of students by their first impression of their teachers as well. They found that initial impressions on the first day of class were directly correlated to the lasting impressions that students had on the teacher and the class in general. As well as that if on the first day of class, if students felt that the teacher would have reciprocal and responsive communication, with little negativity, students would value interactions for the remainder of the semester, leading to a positive overall experience (Horan & Hauser, 2012). This study used the Predicted Outcome Value theory to compare student’s initial impressions of their teachers to their lasting impression of their teacher in a longitudinal study. Predicted Outcome Value theory supports the argument that, during initial interactions, people form judgments that are lasting and predictive for future relationship development (Horan and Hauser, 2012).

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