Leoni Masroujah

Project Title: Taken out of context? Understanding the role of the surroundings in first impressions of people.

Despite the common adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”, people form first impressions of strangers. First impressions pervade our social lives, influencing decisions from financial lending to criminal justice sentencing. Current theories focus on the impression attitudes that are formed based on the facial appearance of someone (e.g. their trustworthiness). One key problem is that in most research the face is presented without any surrounding context or background. In real life, we always see a person’s face in the physical location we encounter them in. For example, someone might be judged differently depending on whether they are encountered in a dark alleyway or at a beach. The project aims to fill this key gap by providing a holistic understanding of first impressions through studying locations and how they affect the impressions of the people we meet within them.

This research fosters crucial advances for everyday life. Multiple guides on first impressions are offered to the public, from coaching for job interviews (e.g. LinkedIn), to workspace design for attractive receptions. These services are insufficient when we lack a solid scientific understanding of how people form impressions of locations. This project addresses these limitations, providing better predictions for social interactions.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Psychology

University: University of Aberdeen

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