A person who is confident in how their first impression was perceived is
more likely to be correct, according to a study by Washington University in St.
Louis researchers. The ability to correctly perceive how others see you or how
you judge people could have great effects in social interactions — from a
first date to a job interview. Believing a date went well and that the person
liked you, when in fact the person did not like you, could lead to
embarrassment and pain, doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at
Washington University in St Louis, Erika N. Carlson said.
Carlson, along with Simine Vazire, PhD, assistant professor of
Psychology at Washington University at St. Louis and R. Michael Furr, PhD,
professor at Wake Forest University, analyzed 5-minute interactions of 280
college students in opposite-sex pairings. Following their interactions,
students recorded their impressions and meta-perceptions of their partner based
on 60 personality items such as “nice,” “funny” and
“outgoing.” Impressions — the student’s rating of their
partner’s personality traits — and meta-perceptions — the
student’s rating of how they think their partner rated their personality
traits — were on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the highest.
Researchers took the study one step further by asking the subjects about
the amount of confidence they had in their judgments about how their partner
rated their personality.
“We found that researchers did not ask their subjects about
confidence,” Carlson told O&P Business News. “We
wanted to know how confident the subjects were in their estimations of how they
saw their partner and how their partner viewed their personality.”
The subject’s degree of confidence proved, more often than not, to
accurately measure whether they were right or wrong when estimating how they
were perceived. According to Carlson, if the subject was confident and believed
they made a particular type of first impression, the data suggested they were
correct in their estimation. Following a job interview, a candidate who is
confident they have made a good first impression, more than likely has.
Conversely, people who were not accurate when guessing how they were
seen were often less confident. The ability to be confident when you are
correct and unsure when you are wrong is called calibration. Carlson likened
calibration to “going with your gut” or having an “internal
“People who are confident in their answers when they are wrong and
unsure when they are correct are not well-calibrated,” Carlson explained.
According to Carlson, the study will be concluded by the end of the
summer. She plans on coding behaviors in the interactions to determine which
characteristics affect calibration.
“The study has certainly raised more questions than answers,”
Carlson said. — by Anthony Calabro