First Impressions of the Face: Predicting Success



The human tendency to form impressions of others is ubiquitous and consequential. Consensus, or agreement among individuals, regarding their first impressions based on the facial appearance of others can lead to the treatment of other individuals in particular ways that shape their outcomes and behaviors. For an impression to be considered accurate it must not only be consensual but must also show correspondence to an external criterion, such as whether impressions of individuals’ leadership ability are related to the performance of their group or organization. Many of our first impressions may not have valid external criteria to enable an assessment of the accuracy of the impression. Yet, whether our impressions are accurate or merely consensual, they can still often predict important outcomes. A limited but growing literature has shown that our impressions can be both consensual and predictive despite important social and perceptual distinctions, such as differences in culture.