The simplest way to meet women today is through online dating, especially if you are out of college and life is no longer a party with short breaks for exams in between. This is good news, because it means you can still keep these comfy T-shirts, which seem to have more holes than days of the week, and find a woman who agrees to do out with you. You just have to limit the time you look shabby to these moments when you are home alone and have no probability of a female—any girl you’d like to have something romantic with—to witness such styling disasters. Because
Because the first impressions are the last impressions. At least, in case of pretty young ladies seeking love. If you were wearing rugs the first time she met you, it’s nearly impossible for her to think of you as the gentleman of her dreams.
The Moment of Initial Contact Leaves Indelible Imprint
Surprisingly, we are making lightning speed judgements about the person we know absolutely nothing about. In the first few seconds of a conversation, we already have a feeling whether we like the person or not, is he trustworthy, knowledgeable, warm—or just the opposite. Such evaluations are made in an instant, without giving it a conscious thought. What many people don’t know is that these first appraisals last well beyond what you might have expected.
In case of online dating, your picture creates a certain impression about you, which is likely to stick for a very long time.
In a recent study, scientists managed to confirm that even several months later people still viewed individuals with the same prejudice, formed within seconds from their portraits.
The Proof that First Impressions Last
Vivian Zayas, psychology professor at Cornell University (NY, USA) asked respondents to rate pictures of 4 women. On some photos ladies were smiling, on others they had a neutral look.
The subjects were asked to answer questions:
- Whether they wanted to be friends with the lady.
- Evaluate her personal traits: Give a judgement whether the woman was an extravert and stable emotionally, as well as her potential openness to experiencing new things, ability to work hard, and friendliness.
Once this part had been completed, the subjects were introduced to the person they judged from photos, this time in a real life environment. But researchers allowed some time to pass: They waited 1 to 6 months until the personal introduction.
The encounter was staged as casual and survey respondents didn’t even realize they had seen this woman before.
People spent 20 minutes together. For the initial 10 minutes they played a game. Then they were given a direct instruction to learn as much as possible about the new acquaintance and could chat for another 10 minutes.
- The respondents then were asked to evaluate personal traits of the woman, who they viewed as new to them.
- The judgments made from the images months before the actual meeting were surprisingly consistent with post-interaction estimates.
If She Fancied Your Photo, She Is Inclined to Like You
People who found an image to possess positive traits (friendliness, emotional stability, open-mindedness, conscientiousness), found the actual human to fit the initial idea. On the other hand, if the respondent thought the woman in the photograph wasn’t likeable and friendly, they maintained the same opinion about the lady after chatting to her during the second stage of the experiment.
You might say, so what? Some people are nice and others are pain to talk to. But judgments, positive or negative, were made regarding the same female! It was the same lady that was evaluated as lovely by some participants and unpleasant by others.
The key to how a certain study participant viewed the lady overall was in her original picture.
- If she looked friendly and open, then original estimations were positive.
- If the photograph depicted a neutral expression, then she was often seen as unfriendly and closed-minded.
Why Initial Judgments Tend to Last?
Professor Zayas points out that how we view a person affects the way we behave in their presence. If we think of them as friendly, we are likely to open up a bit more. In other words, we are friendlier, and therefore get a more engaging response.
It may be expressed through:
- Your smile
- Posture (leaning in)
- Other non-verbal cues (pose, gestures)
- Tone of voice and choice of words
Zayas calls it self-fulfilling prophecy. Our actions, based on early superficial evaluation of the person, lead us to behave in a certain way that would confirm initial guesses. When we behave in an open way, the other individual tends to respond in kind. If we are withdrawn, our interlocutors hold back, too.
The second reason is that we usually attribute multiple positive characteristics to people we find likable. We view such person as more competent, warm, and successful.
Hence, even the people who think they are open to changing their mind about someone once they get to know him or her better, are mistaken. In reality we tend to look for a confirmation of our initial assessment.
Give Women the Cues They Seek
One of essential dating tips, therefore, is to smile and appear friendly both in your profile photos and in early personal encounters, remembering your posture and non-verbal cues, as well as avoiding the proverbial worn T-shirt as an outfit for introductions.
This is why on Bachelor and Bachelorette TV shows singles are starting dressed in evening gowns and suits, although later they spend time on dates in casual gear. If they did it the other way around, the primary emotional imprint about potential mates would be quite different. Elevated clothing style helps to see candidates as more attractive, reliable, and stable.
Particularly for females, who seek security and reliability in a long-term partner, these attributes are forever associated with you, based on the original encounter. In case of online venues for singles, it’s your picture.
The Realm of Online Dating Sites and Apps
In online dating, the scenario above is much shorter for negatively judged men. If she decided in a split second that your picture in the gallery doesn’t qualify as friendly and likable, she simply swipes left. One second and you are out.
In other words, in cases where online dating is involved, the first evaluation may be your last. If you don’t pass the face control, there is no recovery. And it’s not about the genes your mother and father gifted you with. It’s more about the facial expression and style. In certain cultures, expectations may be different.
The easiest way to improve your online dating success rate is to give your profile photo an overhaul. It doesn’t mean that you can skip working on your communication skills, but it makes your job 10 times simpler.
If you really struggle to get girls to answer your interest on dating sites, then consider having photographs done professionally. Think about it: Just a couple of hundred dollars investment—and you are scoring 3-4 times more dates than before. You also know that women are going to seek a positive confirmation to their initial ideas about you, which translates into more second and third dates.
All things considered, why would anyone not do it?