13 Ways People Judge You When They First Meet You, According To Studies

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people judge you when they first meet you

Most of us have the tendency to judge others as psycho or charismatic or positive or arrogant right after the first meeting. Isn’t it? Others judge us too! So, on what basis people judge you and your personality when they first meet you?

Before discussing that I would like to explain why people judge you. 

According to Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., animals constantly judge each other because their brains seek ways to stimulate good feelings of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin and avoid bad feelings caused by the stress hormone cortisol. And the same is the case for humans. 

Dopamine is a reward hormone and the animal brain seeks reward. For example when a lion is deciding when to hunt alone and when to hunt with an ally. Serotonin is released when you are enjoying the position of strength. So, the animal brain tries to know if it is stronger or weaker than other animals. For example,  a baboon deciding if it is safe enough to grab a bit of food in the presence of others.

Oxytocin is stimulated when you enjoy the safety of social support. For example, a chimpanzee deciding who to groom and who not to groom. The same is the case with humans. Cortisol is stimulated at times of danger or any sort of harm. So the animal brain is always asking “can you hurt me?” 

According to certified coach Kellie Zeigler, we humans judge others because our brains are wired to keep us safe. It makes us judge quickly so as to attain stability and certainty as mentioned in Bustle.

When your brain makes you judge someone as a pessimist or egoistic, you will try to stay away from them to avoid pain or any sort of negative experience. Sometimes people are judgemental to know their own position in a social group just like animals. So, that they can decide whether to act dominant or submissive for survival. 

Now that you know the scientific reason why we judge, read on know-how people judge you, your personality even when they hardly know you.

Here are 13 small ways people judge you when they first meet you, according to science.

1. The Temperature Of Your Hands

According to licensed marriage and family therapist, Elizabeth Irias, if you have cold hands people will judge your personality by your hand temperature. Those with warm hands are perceived as warm-hearted and kind people, while those with cold hands are perceived as cold and unemotional. So, if you have cold hands try using a hand warmer or rub your hands well before meeting someone new. 

Read The Psychology of People Who “Hate People”

2. Your Speaking Style 

What people feel about you depends on how you talk to them. When you are honest and open about your life, some people will believe you are authentic, while others think you are an attention-seeker.

Different people will judge your speech patterns in different ways. As per zen psychotherapist Michele Paiva, your friends may enjoy it when you drop ‘F’ bomb because they consider you a real person. But, people outside your circle may dislike and look down upon you for it.  

Read 9 Certain Traits of Untrustworthy People

3. Choice Of Colors

No doubt, it is a wonderful rule to dress as per the occasion. What’s important is the choice of colors. The type of color or shade you pick for your outfits influences what others think of you.

Wearing clothes with lighter tones indicates a friendly attitude, while darker tones are perceived as authoritative. People who often wear blue clothes are perceived as having power, integrity, and knowledge, as said by clinical psychologist Dr. Kim Chronister in an interview. 

Read How To Deal With Judgement – 4 Effective Ways

4. Your First Name 

Well, this is definitely not in your control, but it impacts how people judge you – your age, personality, and competence according to a study. Researchers from Syracuse University observed that female names like Anna or Elizabeth were more linked with warmth than competence, while male names were found to be the opposite. 

Some people perceived names like Dolores or Donald as older when compared to names like Danielle or Devon. Names like John and Mathew were regarded as highly competent and warm. When an individual has a negative experience with a certain name say, Michael, they are more likely to rate them more negatively.

5. Phone Usage Patterns 

We are living in a digital age and smartphones are ruling our lives. Our day starts and ends with apps and notifications. Living without phones has become next to impossible. But, when you are talking to someone for the first time or say you are in an important meeting and constantly looking at your phone, it’s common that people judge you as rude and unprofessional.

How often you check your phones impacts people’s trust in you. Because this habit hampers the quality as well as the duration of the interaction according to Chronister. They may not want to associate with you if they feel like they have to compete with your phone. 

6. Repetitive Nervous Habits

What do you when you are nervous? Crack your knuckles? Chew pencils? Bite your nails? Pull or twist your hair? These are nervous habits that easily signal to people that you are anxious or nervous. Some people may perceive it as a lack of self-confidence. According to Chronister fidgeting is seen as a sign of being nervous even when one is fidgeting as a result of being bored. 

Read 5 Body Language Signs Of Attraction Backed By Science

7. How Often You Talk About Yourself

It is very exciting to find like-minded people, but if you redirect every conversation back to you, people will perceive you as an egocentric or self-obsessed person according to Chronister. Even though your new friend has a few common areas of interest, it is better to ask more questions to know their taste, preferences, choices, likes, dislikes, and perspectives towards life. It will signal that you care about them and are genuinely interested in the friendship. 

8. Your Facial Expressions

How do you smile? When do you frown or raise eyebrows? These factors influence people’s impression of you. Not smiling when greeting people is a sign that you are not interested in communicating with the person or in some sort of distress. People are judgmental and will start analyzing your personality within few seconds of the first encounter based on their pre-existing beliefs about others’ personalities. Someone with babyish features may be considered harmless.

According to research on this field, the first few moments are not happening on a conscious level – people tend to sense how they feel about the person and if these are positive or negative feelings. It’s instinct. “This instinct ends up constructing and informing our reality and gives us a skewed view of how things are,” said Tzlil Hertzberg, mental health counselor at MyTherapist New York.

Read Power-Packed Body Language Tips For Making A Killer First Impression

9. Eye Contact

Avoiding Eye Contact Is A Sign Of Insecurity And Uncertainty

People who avoid eye contact while talking are perceived as anxious and self-conscious as per a 2015 study. Diana Venckunaite, certified life and relationship coach says that this is common with introverts and shy people who can’t maintain eye contact for a prolonged period especially when they are nervous or meeting someone new. On the other hand, extroverts or confident people can easily maintain eye contact whether talking to friends or strangers.  

10. Trustworthiness

People mainly judge others to find out if the person is trustworthy or not. Whether it is public speaking, life coaching or business meetings, or dating, if the person you are trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you won’t be successful in your endeavors. If you fail to establish trust on the first go, people judge you as manipulative. If you are trustworthy and strong, people will no more see you as a threat. 

11. Your Voice

People can make a snap judgment of your personality based on your voice. In the 2019 Glasgow study participants were asked to rate others for dominance, trustworthiness, and competence, after hearing them say “Hola” or “Hello.” The participants considered some voices as more aggressive or confident and certain voices as being more trustworthy and warm.

12. The Way You Treat Others

The way you talk about people with lower status or smaller job titles. Speaks volume about your ego and personality. If you speak positive stuff about others or praise your friends for the good great things they do, then you will be perceived as a happy, kind-hearted, and emotionally stable person. If you have no respect and compassion for people who are earning less than you, then people judge you as a negative person. So, how you judge others influence how others judge you. 

Watch How He Speaks of his Exes

13. Your Physical Appearance

Sad, but it’s a fact! People judge you based on your looks. In a study, participants were shown 100 photographs of people whom they never met. In some pictures, people were smiling and had naturally expressive poses. And in other pics, people had controlled poses with neutral expressions. 

Participants were able to accurately judge – a person in a natural pose in the photo –  for nine out of 10 major traits including extraversion, openness, likability, and loneliness. Even when the photos had someone in a controlled pose, participants were able to accurately judge them for some major personality traits.

Read 3 Ways to Stop Judging Others By Their Body Image

We should not judge a book by its cover or wine by its design and label. But we end up doing so. People judge you when they first meet to figure out if they are safe associating with you, can trust and respect you. Don’t take it personally as they are just trying to get to know you. Now that you know the science of judging people, you may choose to change some aspects of your personality or stay as you are. But, remember first impression do it all!  


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