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How First Impressions can Make or Break You

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

Imagine going on a blind date with a friend of your mom’s third best friend’s daughter’s boyfriend’s sister’s favorite barista at Starbucks. They pick you up at precisely a quarter- to- seven, standing on your driveway with a bouquet of roses in hand and the most amazing frappuccino you’ve ever tasted in the other. Behind them is the sports car of your dreams and your absolute favorite artist is playing on the radio.

Now imagine going on a blind date with your friend’s ex-girlfriend’s dentist’s dog groomer’s cousin. They get to your house 40 minutes late (and don’t even bother texting you to let you know) in a beaten up green Volvo from the 1970s, honk the horn three times, and gesture for you to get in while they loudly fight with their mother on their flip phone.

At this point, which date would go better in your opinion?

Now that you’ve judged them before even speaking to them, let’s see how the dates play out.

The Starbucks barista takes you to a night club where they then proceed to flirt with four other people, accidentally spill a drink on your shoes, and turn out to have a serious emotional attachment to their teddy bear from third grade. The night ends with you dragging them out while they cry about the ending of Titanic. They text you the next morning saying they think they love you.

The dog groomer’s cousin gets off the phone with their mother, who is going through menopausal mood swings, and apologizes for the trouble. It turns out that they had seen a stray cat trapped in a tree on the way to your house and had promptly pulled over to rescue it and turn it in to the local animal shelter, which explains their late arrival. They take you to a drive- in theater and buy you the large popcorn with your favorite fountain drink and make sweet little comments throughout the film. At the end of the night they walk you to your door and kiss you goodbye.

Scientists have proven that people make judgments about others within seven seconds of meeting them. While the Starbucks barista made a great first impression, it was hardly representative of their actual personality. Meanwhile, the second person turned out to be a great person despite how they appeared at first. In making hasty judgments, people are rarely right or often wrong.

How does this apply to you?

Try not to judge people you see walking down the street without getting to know them. There’s always more to a person than initial appearances suggest. Give them the benefit of the doubt, but don’t let yourself be intimidated by someone that appears to have it all together. Chances are, they’re as nervous and as clueless about their life as you are. There’s no way to properly assess someone’s personality by the first impression they make.

And by knowing the incredibly small time frame in which a first impression is made, use that information for things such as job interviews. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, but project the best parts of you in circumstances like that.

First impressions really can make or break you.


Sarah Drake is a (literally) colorful girl who loves music, food, puppies, and sleeping. You can find her around campus holding coffee and excitedly ranting about something random.
Dakota Greenwich is a Cal Poly 3rd year English Major, studying for her undergraduate and minors in linguistics and graphic communications. This is her 2nd year writing for Her Campus and in her spare time, she works at the Kennedy Library, studies, and blogs. She loves to discuss and research current social issues including women's rights and political issues. If you don't see her working at my campus library or studying, you can find her at her favorite coffee shop, Scout Coffee, reading a thriller novel.