It looks like first impressions are all about ‘what’s in it for me’. Those pesky neuroscientists have been at it again and have identified two areas of the brain that fire up when we’re dealing with impression-relevant information. They are the amygdala, which seems to have a hand in all sorts of stuff, but this time it’s to do with trust; and the posterior cingulate cortex, which is your very own internal accountant, concerned with economic decision-making and the evaluation of rewards. The upshot is that before someone has even had a chance to sneeze you’ve checked out whether they are of value to you. A bit depressing isn’t it? However it might help to explain social climbing…
Want it straight from the horse’s mouth? Here’s the reference:
Schiller, D., Freeman, J.B., Mitchell, J.P, Uleman, J.S. & Phelps, A. (2009). A Neural Mechanism of First Impressions. Nature Neuroscience, 12, pp. 508-514.
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