Impressions & Expectations.

20 09 2009

One often hears the saying on how first impressions are able to “make or break”. Well,  psychologists caution that one has a mere “7 to 17 seconds of interacting” with strangers before an initial impression is formed. Within this extremely short yet crucial timing, business deals can be made or broken, first dates become second dates or not, friendships are created or fail to form; everything hinges on that all-important initial encounter.

This point was reinforced during an event organised by Romancing Singapore (, an all-year-round local festival that aims to create social interaction opportunities through commercial thematic events and activities. Held on 15 September 09 at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, in collaboration with Sony Pictures, participants were encouraged to mingle over dinner and games before watching the new romantic comedy – The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler.

the ugly truth 1

Certain scenes in the movie are worth mentioning, such as the example of Mike (Butler) taking Amy (Heigl) to a lingerie shop to find an appropriate bra and outfit that would capture a guy’s attention.


He then sets out to coach her on the steps of flirting, and how to project an enticing image to attract men.

Co-founder of Romancing Singapore, Miss Jasmine Cheong, reaffirmed this by agreeing that first impressions do count and as a dating consultant, she often had to remind her clients, especially the men, to put in the effort to dress appropriately on their first date.

Interviews done during the event uncovered certain ugly truths regarding some netizens’ expectations of finding the ‘perfect partner’, as well as the importance of first impressions. This is  akin to that of the movie, in which Amy (Heigl) has a checklist in her quest for Mr Perfect.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Facing The Ugly Truth (Interviews)“, posted with vodpod

In my opinion, much has to do with perception of the individual.

For instance, we tend to subconsciously categorize the people we meet, and create certain prototypes based on our specific experiences, or perhaps, biological “hard-wiring”; in which superficially, men have been said to be naturally drawn to women with curvier figures, and women to men with larger physiques and strong, chiselled facial features.

The scene in the movie has also brought up a point regarding the usage of scripts in events of interaction. Scripts act as cognitive framework for situational interaction and form the basis for assessing actions & responses. This may be observed in the scene in which Mike (Butler) coaches Amy (Heigl) on the “art of flirting”. Flirting, which operates at a more subconscious level in interaction between two parties with mutual interest in each other, is a realistic case that we partake in at any one point in our lives whilst attempting to source for “The One”. This may be seen on a first date in which we would definitely pay more attention to our conduct, the way we speak, the issues we bring up to engage the other party, right down to the attire we pick out.

As seen in the video of the interview, naval officer Leonard Chan’s perspective included the fact that he felt ladies’ expectations of men are getting higher every year as “society becomes more affluent”. He mentioned that some even ask about “the guy’s occupations and find out what kind of car they drive”, adding that they would prefer their partner to be “humorous, up-to-date on current affairs and to be the ultimate gentleman”.  This is probably due to the principle of similarity – associating and ‘matching’ indicators such as physical behaviours, educational levels or dress sense, to one’s idealised prototypes. For example, one would most likely associate a person driving a Mercedes convertible, with success, affluence and high societal status.

It can be argued that non-verbal communication may play a greater and more significant role in determining how one’s first impression is crafted. Besides physical appearance, other factors such as kinesics (body language), personal objects (subconscious association with personal identity & status), oculesics (eye contact), haptics (touch) and proxemics (space & distance) are all at play during interaction. After all, first impressions are easily constructed within the first few seconds.

Indeed, there is a distinct relationship between our perception (impressions) and communication, be it via verbal or nonverbal cues. It it thus crucial for us to keep in mind how we may portray ourselves through our exterior and even through verbalised dialogues whereby we subconsciously go through the motions of a prepared mental script ;)





4 responses

21 09 2009

It is of no doubt that impressions, especially the initial ones, do play a big role in how others may judge a person. Impressions give one a window to assess a person and further predict his characteristics and traits as an individual. This is supported from your blog that impressions may be gained through ‘specific experiences, or perhaps, biological hard-wiring’. Henceforth, we tend to have a mental model of how a person may be, even without interacting with him for long, through either verbal or non-verbal means.

Face it, we homo sapiens are subject to the human condition – we are biased and we show favoritism. If a person gives us a better impression than the other, we are more likely to treat him better and give him more interaction and opportunities, be it business deals or a second date etc.

In today’s context, the first impression is ever imperative. We dress up neatly for interviews, we put on pheromone-enhanced perfumes on the first dates and we follow a certain ‘desirable’ code of conduct so as to ensure that we make a positive impression.

Food for thought: As much as we all know that impressions count, are they worth more than the significance of reputations? On top of that, will the drive to impress backfire and cause oneself to be someone he’s not?

P.S a great work with solid evaluation, relevant examples and much insights! :)

22 09 2009

I think that it is absolutely true what you stated , like how you agreed that verbal and non verbal cues are somewhat related to perception or stereotyping.I think the examples , the real life examples for instance the one you stated on Miss Jasmine and all really appeals to readers such as me.Yeah and i also agree that people that perceptions are influenced by the aspects of non verbal cue someone possess.

good post with, good examples and good videos to support your post.

keep it up!

23 09 2009

i think a lot of our perceptions are due to our personal construct, where we perceive things due to our past experiences. it is natural to perceive that anyone who drives a luxurious car is rich because they certainly need a large sum of money to buy the car. however, there are hawker stall owners who are also able to drive luxurious cars.
even the criteria we want in a partner are all perceptions because we think that if the partner can meet our criteria, we will be very blessed. much of what we perceive today is largely due to the information through the media. prototypes such as famous hulky actors and even the models in the Victoria’s Secret runway show make us believe that good muscular/slim body figures are what we are looking for in a partner.

25 09 2009

I love that show!

Ok anws first impression is definitely important! Often, our perception of an acquaintance is usually formed by the first impression we’re left with. For eg you may be outstanding grades-wise but if you step on the wrong foot of the interviewer, chances are that you are not likely to get your job. Likewise for first dates and other events, to make yourself presentable and appealing is a priority. This is probably because majority of us take note of a person’s overall appearance. Body language alone can be a tell-tale sign of a person’s personality.

To sum it all up, I couldnt agree more with Miss Cheong’s emphasis on the importance of first impressions.

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