Yes, Looks Matter With First Impressions (But That’s Not All…)

lovely woman making a great impression to her new guy


Neat article in Business Insider confirms what most of us already suspect:

Looks matter. Clothes matter. Non-verbal cues matter. Eye contact matters.

Perception matters.

There’s a political correctness around speaking truth that I just can’t abide – and this is one of those issues that someone can accidentally take pejoratively.

When I share a summary of a scientific article that says that “this is how people actually react to other people,” it is not an endorsement of said behavior. It’s an observation.

Same as reporting that people who wait longer to get married are less likely to divorce.

Same as reporting that children born to single mothers have a harder time in life.

Same as reporting that women don’t enjoy hookup culture as much as men do.

There are always a million exceptions to these rules – but it’s important to know and acknowledge the rules.

You can’t change your  height. You can’t change your age. You can’t give yourself a full-on personality transplant. But you can lose weight. You can dress nicer. You can square your body, smile and look people in the eyes when you talk.

All of these, by the way, are just signifiers of the one all-important trait out there: confidence.

Show people you like yourself and people will reflexively like you in return. Act slovenly, insecure, or negative and – without trying – people will have a negative reaction.

It ain’t rocket science, but sometimes, it’s important to remember that whether it’s good, bad or unfair doesn’t matter. What matters whether you’re happy with the results.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.


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  1. 1
    Karl R

    I wish I’d had access to this kind of information (and OKCupid’s information about photos) when I was doing online dating.

    If I ever have the misfortune to end up doing online dating again, my number one priority will be good photographs.


    Of course, I have a huge advantage now, which I didn’t have back when I was dating online.   I own a camera.   And I’ve learned how to use it.

  2. 2
    No Name To Give

    Well, that leaves me out. I’ll cheer on the rest of you!

    1. 2.1

      Naa. Just find someone who doesn’t form opinions based on appearances 🙂

      There’s a reason for that saying: Looks can be deceiving. Never judge a book by the cover, etc.

      Not everyone falls for it.

  3. 3

    “Yes, Looks Matter With First Impressions (But That’s Not All…)”
    And in other news water is wet. Ha, I’m not being facetious; but what I find fascinating is the volume of information, not just looks, that can be implicitly gleaned from another person by closely analyzing a first impression and, more importantly, the volume of information that can be implicitly conveyed to another person with a first impression.
    Some points not noted in the article worth discussing are those that we can work on:
    Visual stimuli:
    As mentioned in the article one’s appearance tells so much, however, it’s not just clothing that matters:
    –                   Teeth are a huge issue not mentioned in the article; the condition of one’s teeth tells so much about a person (looks, self-care, status, indeed they’re almost a proxy for how rich or poor one is).
    –                   Hair-style. No-brainer surely.
    –                   Jewellery: the article mentioned tattoos but not jewellery and other adornments. I have none at all but maybe it’s something I could consider. Ladies: opinions on male jewellery and other adornments?
    Verbal stimuli:
    How one speaks is a real biggy; tone, clarity and probably most importantly; one’s accent.
    –                   One’s accent says a lot about where they’re from and how they convey themselves to others. I have a reasonably middling accent, not perceptibly posh or poor; however, I notice that when I speak to those with working-class accents I instinctively harden mine. Conversely when speaking to those with posh accents I instinctively adjust accordingly too. Some may see this as pretentious; however, I think it ameliorates the personal dynamic as it diminishes the societal gap between the two parties.
    –                   Clarity, tone and pace. Can these be worked on? Probably not really.
    –                   Speech impediments. I don’t know enough about speech impediments to know if they can be worked on/improved as an adult.
    Olfactory stimuli:
    Be clean and smell nice. Simples.
    I’ll leave taste and touch stimuli until Part 2 of Tom10’s “Guide to Creating Positive First Impressions.” 😉

    1. 3.1

      Ooh, I think I might be (unintentionally) discriminating against some men based on accent.   Need to think about that.

      Jewelry is unlikely to improve my opinion of a guy but does have the potential to worsen it if the jewelry’s excessive, tacky, or makes a statement I don’t like.

    2. 3.2

      Jewellery on men: Less is more (IMO).

      And re-think the pinky ring 😁

      1. 3.2.1


        This! The pinky ring, oh gosh.


  4. 4

    One has to be careful with psychological studies as they have a serious replication problem in the field (FiveThirtyEight wrote about this a few days ago). Some of the studies mentioned in that article have not been replicated. Given that, it’s a stretch to call all of this fact.   Prolonged eye contact is actually considered rude in some cultures so some of this isn’t universal. That ugly people are at a disadvantage in life is without question, though.

    There was a section that made me scratch my head, the “trustworthy” face bit. This is actually something that has been replicated several times. In my life, I’ve always had this problem. And yeah, it’s a problem. I’ve always been an “unpaid therapist” since I was 20 at least. I graduated from college at 33 and my experience was a bit different due to that, but I was apparently everyone’s secret keeper.   I thought it might have simply been because I was older than others at first (though this was a university in a military town so I was in no way out of the ordinary there), then the older people started doing it. Grown men with Ph.D.’s  crying about life issues to me in the hallways  of campus, Admins going on about their terrible husbands, the list goes on. The weirdest one was when I was doing some tutoring at the military center. I met this full-bird while setting up a Python demo(Ba in PolySci, just know how to program as a hobby). He started going on about his last tour of duty, he starts talking about some mission and says “it was a classified op but I just trust you”. I wish I was making that up. I’m convinced people are entirely irrational. This has never stopped. To this day, I regularly get people spilling all their emotional turmoil and deep secrets to me, sometimes while waiting in line at Wal-Mart, sometimes at gas stations, other times while I’m  trying to get coffee. I don’t even want to think about my co-workers and their emotional bleeding. It helps at work, but man, one get’s tired of hearing the world’s woes  ðŸ˜‚Please stop emotionally bleeding on me.

    Ah well, five minutes  I can’t get back.

    1. 4.1
      No Name To Give

      I seem to get that too. People seem to feel at ease around me, but I feel more at ease around animals, although I do have a handful of people I can confide in.

      I have had the experience in the past of objectively attractive men (at least for my area) contacting me online with the possibility of a date. Because I know my looks are average at best, I ended up talking them out of it. I don’t see myself as someone they would be interested in. I don’t trust it.

  5. 5

    Very interesting article.

    And drives home once again how much of an oddity I am. Except for the shaved head being an indicator of dominance (with the exception of military, because it’s forced, I’ve never met a man with a short shaved head who wasn’t leaning toward dominant), I don’t read people like any of this at all. I wouldn’t come to these conclusions based on a certain look/appearance.

    In general, I associate most of these with a mask that people wear, which in no way indicates anything about their true identity/personality.

    But, as Evan said, it’s an interesting statement how the majority of people perceives things.

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