The Psychology Behind Creating A Great First Impression – Why Does it Matter?

By 13 January, 2013 December 28th, 2015 Blog
psychology first impression

First impressions are everything. The latest research findings from the world of Psychology have provided fresh and exciting insights into the reasons why creating a great first impression is so important – especially when dating.

When we meet somebody new in a dating context, our brains have to assimilate a vast amount of information about that person. We try and categorize them and judge their characteristics to compute whether they provide a suitable match that compliments us, or whether we are not attracted to them. In essence, our brains are like little private detectors that distill all the information about them (from their physical appearance right down to their personality type and everything in between).

Since our brains have to process up to 2 million pieces of information per second, much of this happens at a subconscious level. We are effectively running on autopilot when it comes to making assumptions about who we are talking to or meeting for the first time – therefore when it comes to finding who we find attractive and who we don’t – we have evolved with the amazing capacity to do this subconsciously.

The First Impression And The Brain …

What we encounter first is very important in determining our perception – not just for attraction, but for human behaviour as a whole.

We instinctively place more weight on the first point of contact and use this information as a basis interpret further information from. Therefore when we meet someone who oozes positivity, and is generally a blast to be around, we are more likely to perceive all their other characteristics in a more positive way. This is sometimes known as the halo effect and can drive up attraction like no other.

Likewise, a poor first impression primes people to judge all your merits in a less desirable way! Therefore it pays to learn the fundamentals of the psychology behind the first impression to be sure you’re creating an awesome one!

Our brain’s like to use the first impression as a mental start point, where further information can be easily be latched onto it.

The First Impression In Action!

The importance of the first impression can be seen almost everywhere. And anyone that knows that power the first impression brings, is instantly able to use it to their advantage.

Take supermarkets for example. They will go out of their way to make sure that your first point of contact with the store is a great one because they understand the positive consequences that from stem it.

Rather than by placing random products that have no meaning at the front of the store, they will usually place a lavish display of bright flowers as soon as you walk through the door. This is not to promote the sales of flowers, but rather to ensure that your subconscious is priming you to think of ‘fresh’ which will inherently boost the sales of their food products and drive up sales of food shoppers.

How To Create A Great First Impression At Speed Dating!

Given the relatively short amount of allocated time with each speed dater, creating a great first impression will be a useful tool in priming your date to think positive thoughts about you as a whole and have them begging for more.

Ok, so lets get down to business. How do you create a great first impression with Psychology? The scientists of attraction at HaveYourPick (who advise men on becoming more successful with women through the utilisation of Psychology) have distilled their knowledge of the science behind the first impression for both men and women to spark attract at your next speed dating event! So Here goes!

(1) The Psychology of Smiling

When first meeting somebody, smiling represents itself as a powerful tool in creating an instant likeability. Being likeable is one of the most important predicators of securing further contact with somebody after a speed-dating event, and smiling is a perfect way to spark this.

Smiling is often reciprocal. When we smile at somebody, they are likely to smile back. This is thanks to neurons in my brain called mirror neurons that allow us to mimic other’s behaviour. When we smile, the facial muscles needed to produce a cheeky grin trigger the release the dopamine; the brain’s pleasure chemical! Triggering a release of this happy drug gets translated into an instant likeability for you. So remember, when greeting somebody new – always wear a smile because that smile is contagious!

(2) Asking Questions; encourage self-disclosure!

You’ve got a few minutes to spark great conversation. Engaging people in conversation is an awesome way to generate attraction for both genders!

Typically, asking someone questions that require them to reflect upon their positive attributes (such as asking about somebody’s passions and the things that they love to do), not only are you expressing a deep interest in the subjects that they take great pride in, they also have to talk about themselves.

What’s everybody’s favourite subject? Themselves!

Not only are we biased to believe that we are more interesting that your average Joe, but when people ask us questions about ourselves, the regions in our brain responsible for feelings of pleasure go absolutely crazy. Brain imaging studies have shown that when we talk about ourselves to others, we feel much better than we would if we were to be talking about an arbitrary subject. So remember, when speaking to somebody new, ask questions about things that they love and get them to talk about themselves! Visit here for more questions to ask on a first date!

(3) Listen Up!

Not only is it psychologically rewarding to ask meaningful questions that get your speed dater to reflect upon themselves in a positive light, but it’s important to listen – and listen very closely indeed!

We like people that listen to us (it’s a concrete sign that they are interested in us and what we’re saying, which we unconsciously take as a sign of the value they place on interacting with us) and we are more inclined to return this favour when they’re talking.

When we meet somebody new, undoubtedly there is a natural human barrier – especially in a dating context. You’re nervous, wondering what they think of you and you’re desperately trying to not mess up.

But all this worrying may be influencing your ability to listen. Psychology has revealed that in certain situations that cause a little apprehension (such as speed-dating) we fail to listen effectively as our thoughts revolve around pondering what we’re going to say next. However, you have the ability to override the attention bias.

By paying close attention to the conversation, you will be able to unlock new avenues of potential conversation by following on from what you’re speed taker is talking about and asking questions!

(4) The Power of Smelling Great

Smell presents itself as a powerful attraction tool and can dramatically shape the first impression and prime positive expectations at a subconscious level. Smell is the most deeply rooted sensory system within the brain that taps into our memory and cognition. One we meet someone that smells great, we may not consciously consider it, however our overall impression of that person can become more positively shaped. Therefore, when speed dating, be sure to wear your best fragrance and make sure you stock up on deodorant before you arrive because a bad smell can equally influence attraction – but in the way you hadn’t hoped for! Read more on the Psychology of smell here!

Article written by Jamie Bardwell.

For more on the Psychology of attraction please visit

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