Are first impressions really the last impression?

Apoorva Addepalli
5 min readMar 8, 2022


In a world that is so face value driven, is there room for more than first impressions?

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Since starting our podcast After 21, I have had the ability to challenge my thinking thanks to researching material and interviewing guests!

During one of our most recent episode on modern day relationships, our guest said, “How many times have you judged a person’s character even without meeting him/ her!?”.

And that got me thinking.

In the dating app space, I am definitely guilty of swiping right or left, just going off their pictures on their profile. I took pride in judging peoples character and gave into the superficial element of “looks”.

But even beyond the world of dating, in our regular day to day life, how many times have you heard “First impression is the last impression? How many times has someone said to you before a meeting, to make sure you dress well? To make sure you make eye contact and smile?

In a world that is so face value driven, is there room for more than first impressions?

Truth is, the average human has about 7 seconds to make an impression, before they get judged. You heard me… 7 “LONG” seconds to shoot your shot and woe the other person!

And let’s just say you screw up (Are you even human if you don’t ever screw up your first impression?), how much does it take to redeem yourself? 8 subsequent positive encounters! I mean, you’re destined to fail at this rate!

It’s ironical to think that we as a society believe that everyone deserves a second chance and yet science and experiments prove otherwise. We’ve fallen prey to our unconscious biases and haven’t given the other person a chance to even be themselves!

So in an effort to try and extend that 7 seconds of ticking judgement time bomb, maybe we can recognize some of these factors and just give the other person a chance. I’ve come up with a list that I believe plays a role in making that snap judgment. Maybe through this we can TRY to push beyond the shackles of first impressions and attempt at not making it a lasting impression!

  1. Recognize cultural differences

Everyone is built different, thinks different and acts different. It’s kind of scary to think that physical features can have a direct impact on a first impression of someone. Especially if they come from different cultures. The behavior of someone from an individualist culture is different from that of a collectivist culture. Someone can be innately loud and seem confident, while the other could quiet and intrinsic. The set of morals with interaction norms vary accordingly and it is really important to acknowledge these differences.

I am not saying you memorize the distinct behaviors of people from different cultures. But when you are in an interview, or on a date or are meeting someone for the first time, don’t be ignorant! Its 2022. Give the other person a benefit of doubt and understand that people are different. They may not be your cup of tea, but at least give them a chance to speak!

2. The other person is nervous too!

Because classic human behavior latches more onto the bad behavior over good, if a specific someone was a little weird or behaved “absurdly”, we immediately jump into a spiral of snap judgements, judging their character, even before they had a chance to release their aura.

You’d be lying if you said you aren’t nervous when you are attending a meeting for the very first time. No matter how much you prep, those starter butterflies are inevitable. So why not ease the atmosphere for the more nervous person and see how they perform? It’s a great way to get over your initial snap judgements on the other person.

3. Be open to the surprise of being proved wrong of your expectations of someone

Ok, this comes with practice. But when you are fighting snap judgements in your head about the person in front of you, first impressions can sometimes do more damage than good. What if that person is doing this for the first time? Are they first in their family to speak fluent English? Or are they just plain nervous?! A lot of factors play into the game of fighting first impressions.

I may sound like a hypocrite for saying this, because trust me- I can judge pretty quickly too. There is something so revealing about being proved wrong about your personal judgements on the other person. You realize how low your standards are. You realize how quickly behaviors can be taken out of context. And how much attention you pay to the wrong things.

If there is literally one thing you can practice the next time you are in a “first time meeting”, then it is to sit through the meeting like an open book. Don’t go off their physical features but rather their energy (easier said than done, I know!). Are you vibing with them? If you aren’t, well then congratulations! At least you fought the urge to judge through first impressions.

In conclusion

I recently saw this new Netflix reality show called “Love is Blind” and it is a social experiment on dating to find “the one”. The boy and the girl are speaking to each other from their respective pods without seeing each other’s faces. If they gel thoroughly, then they see each others faces and have to marry them within the next 2 weeks. The whole idea is to get over those initial biases that you come across when you see someone for the first time.

Now obviously, life isn’t a well-produced social experiment. You cant hide behind walls to judge a person’s personality, but as an analogy, you can at least try to get over those initial first impressions! It’s tough to fight the urges of your brain sending you 100,000 judgement waves on the person sitting in front of you. But a large part of this is article is to help you practice the “second chance” idea. The hope that we as a society can go beyond the first 7 sections of first impressions and hear the other person out.

You never know, fighting those “lasting impressions”, can strike an unexpected wonderful relationship!


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