The First Impression You Give of Yourself

By Natasa Mitreva

How many times have we seen someone and expressed an opinion before we have even met them? 

What are the criteria that lead us to say that we like or dislike a person by feeling? 

How often has our first impression of a person influenced our behavior towards them? 

What is prejudice?

To be able to answer these questions, we must first understand the subject, the concept of prejudice. Prejudice is a subjective thought about another person, based only on a first impression, without really knowing their character or personality. Although there is no real logic in making a judgment about an unknown entity, everyone makes a judgment.


A tag on an unknown

Prejudices give rise to labels, a process of simplifying the reality of a subject. Because of some physical or cultural characteristic, we label a person, without even having spoken to them before, and we attribute hasty characteristics to him or her. If we think for example of Italians, or more generally of Italy, what kind of labels will first come to mind? Probably the first thing we will think of is they only eat pizza or pasta, then we will think of their culture and of them as being warm and welcoming, additionally, more negative thoughts will come to mind, such as their exaggerated gestures and tone of voice. But we are wrong to think this way and to categorize all Italians and Italy in the same way, basing ourselves on pure ideologies.


Curriculum Vitae

Another example that can give us a better understanding of the concept of bias can be that of the working sphere. A fundamental criterion on which employers base their recruitment is the CV. From a simple photo, name, and surname, the employer may prefer one person over another, even if their experience is identical. So, the first impression one gives of oneself, from a few simple pieces of information and physical appearance, can make someone prefer us to another because they feel more akin to our being than to that of another. For example, an employer of a specific nationality may prefer to employ a fellow countryman, simply because of prejudice he has and may feel that he is more reliable than perhaps another employee of another nationality.


The effect of a question on the person asked

Prejudice often leads us to ask questions of the person concerned, homologating them to a category that reminds us of them.  The effect we can have been, for example, to embarrass the interlocutor by asking him questions he is not comfortable answering or is unfamiliar with. It is therefore important not to set expectations or an opinion regardless of the person's personality, for example, based on how they dress, the color of their skin, or the expressions they may have made at certain times of the day. If we want to get to know a person, the ideal would be to start a natural conversation without asking overly specific questions about a visual or superficial characteristic. The most incorrect thing you can do in a first acquaintance is to adopt a specific behavior that seems right to us because of an idea you have previously had about that person. During the acquaintance and discussion, the best scenario is to understand what the personality of the interlocutor is like, what can be asked of them, and in what way.



In conclusion, prejudice is and will remain an issue that is highly unlikely to disappear. The human mind performs this action naturally and spontaneously. The unknown is always associated with a category known to us and the attitude we have towards it is influenced by this idea we have about it, even before we know it.