Should you trust your first impression?

13 апреля 2015

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Should you trust your first impression?

0:07Imagine you're at a football game when this obnoxious guy sits next to you. He's loud, he spills his drink on you, and he makes fun of your team. Days later, you're walking in the park when suddenly it starts to pour rain. Who should show up at your side to offer you an umbrella? The same guy from the football game. Do you change your mind about him based on this second encounter, or do you go with your first impression and write him off?
0:31Research in social psychology suggests that we're quick to form lasting impressions of others based on their behaviors. We manage to do this with little effort, inferring stable character traits from a single behavior, like a harsh word or a clumsy step. Using our impressions as guides, we can accurately predict how people are going to behave in the future. Armed with the knowledge the guy from the football game was a jerk the first time you met him, you might expect more of the same down the road.
0:59If so, you might choose to avoid him the next time you see him. That said, we can change our impressions in light of new information. Behavioral researchers have identified consistent patterns that seem to guide this process of impression updating. On the one hand, learning very negative, highly immoral information about someone typically has a stronger impact than learning very positive, highly moral information. So, unfortunately for our new friend from the football game, his bad behavior at the game might outweigh his good behavior at the park. Research suggests that this bias occurs because immoral behaviors are more diagnostic, or revealing, of a person's true character.
1:42Okay, so by this logic, bad is always stronger than good when it comes to updating. Well, not necessarily. Certain types of learning don't seem to lead to this sort of negativity bias. When learning about another person's abilities and competencies, for instance, this bias flips. It's actually the positive information that gets weighted more heavily. Let's go back to that football game. If a player scores a goal, it ultimately has a stronger impact on your impression of their skills than if they miss the net. The two sides of the updating story are ultimately quite consistent. Overall, behaviors that are perceived as being less frequent are also the ones that people tend to weigh more heavily when forming and updating impressions, highly immoral actions and highly competent actions.
2:29So, what's happening at the level of the brain when we're updating our impressions? Using fMRI, or functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, researchers have identified an extended network of brain regions that respond to new information that's inconsistent with initial impressions. These include areas typically associated with social cognition, attention, and cognitive control. Moreover, when updating impressions based on people's behaviors, activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the superior temporal sulcus correlates with perceptions of how frequently those behaviors occur in daily life.
3:07In other words, the brain seems to be tracking low-level, statistical properties of behavior in order to make complex decisions regarding other people's character. It needs to decide is this person's behavior typical or is it out of the ordinary? In the situation with the obnoxious-football-fan-turned-good-samaritan, your brain says, "Well, in my experience, pretty much anyone would lend someone their umbrella, but the way this guy acted at the football game, that was unusual." And so, you decide to go with your first impression.
3:39There's a good moral in this data: your brain, and by extension you, might care more about the very negative, immoral things another person has done compared to the very positive, moral things, but it's a direct result of the comparative rarity of those bad behaviors. We're more used to people being basically good, like taking time to help a stranger in need. In this context, bad might be stronger than good, but only because good is more plentiful.
4:06Think about the last time you judged someone based on their behavior, especially a time when you really feel like you changed your mind about someone. Was the behavior that caused you to update your impression something you'd expect anyone to do, or was it something totally out of the ordinary?

next to

Наречие «next to» означает «рядом с», «следующий за», «соседний», «почти», «рядом» например, «a seat next to the fire» (место у камина), «next to impossible» (маловероятно), «next to nothing» (всего ничего).

  • She smiled, touching the case in the seat next to her. — Она улыбнулась и снова прикоснулась к футляру на соседнем сиденье.

makes fun of

Идиома «make fun of» означает «высмеивать кого-либо или что-либо», «дразнить», «потешаться», «подтрунивать».

  • The students were making fun of the girl with the short hair. — Ученики высмеивали девочку с короткими волосами.

show up

Данный фразовый глагол имеет два основных значения. В нашем тексте «show up» означает «появиться», «прибыть», «прийти», например, «he did not show up» (он не явился). Второе значение — «выделываться и выставлять кого-либо хуже себя», например, «try to show up your co-workers» (пытаться выглядеть лучше своих сослуживцев).

  • We expected David to come but he didn't show up. — Мы ожидали, что Дэвид придет, но он не появился.

change your mind

Идиома «change one's mind» означает «поменять, изменить решение», «передумать», «разубеждаться».

  • My friend changed his mind and said that he would not go to the movie tonight. — Мой друг поменял свое решение и сказал, что не пойдет сегодня вечером в кино.


Слово «encounter» переводится как «случайная встреча», «неожиданно встретиться или столкнуться с кем-либо». Аналогичное значение имеет и фразовый глагол «run into», который тоже переводится как «случайно встретиться».

  • He did not encounter anyone else on foot. — Он не видел никого, кто бы шел пешком.


Глагол «infer» означает «делать выводы», «заключать». В нашем тексте он стоит в форме причастия настоящего времени (Participle I), которое образуется с помощью окончания «-ing» и в нашем случае отвечает на вопрос «что делая?».

  • What do you infer from the voting figures? — Какие выводы вы делаете из результатов голосования?

down the road

Выражение «down the road» переводится как «в перспективе», «в дальнейшем», «по ходу», «в будущем».

  • There's too much work still down the road. — Слишком много еще работы впереди.

On the one hand

«On the one hand» и «on the other hand» — это очень распространенные выражения, которые используются в современных текстах, письмах и в устной речи. Они являются аналогами «с одной стороны», «с другой стороны» в русском языке.

  • I'd like to eat out, but on the other hand I should be trying to save money. — Я бы поел где-нибудь в ресторане, но с другой стороны, я должен стараться экономить.

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