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Culturally learned first impressions occur rapidly and automatically and emerge early in development

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JournalDevelopmental Science
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Jul 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 7 Aug 2020
Early online date7/08/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Previous research indicates that first impressions from faces are the products of automatic and rapid processing and emerge early in development. These features have been taken as evidence that first impressions have a phylogenetic origin. We examine whether first impressions acquired through learning can also possess these features. First, we confirm that adults rate a person as more intelligent when they are wearing glasses (Study 1). Next, we show this inference persists when participants are instructed to ignore the glasses (Study 2) and when viewing time is restricted to 100 milliseconds (Study 3). Finally, we show that six-year-old, but not 4-year-old, children perceive individuals wearing glasses to be more intelligent, indicating that the effect is seen relatively early in development (Study 4). These data indicate that automaticity, rapid access, and early emergence are not evidence that first impressions have an innate origin. Rather, these features are equally compatible with a learning model.
Keywords:
First Impressions;

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