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..."How we form first impressions of others"...

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..."How we form first impressions of others"...

Post by roshini on Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:18 pm

First Impression

How we form first impressions of others

Mar 9 (ANI): They say that first impressions last forever, but what
goes in a person's brain when he or she meets someone new is something
that has plagued the researchers since time immemorial. Scientists have
now identified the neural systems involved in forming first impressions
of others.

Neuroscientists at New York University and Harvard
University have shown how people encode social information, and then
evaluate it to make initial judgments.

The study was aimed at
probing the brain mechanisms that give rise to impressions formed
immediately after meeting a new person.

by Daniela Schiller, a post-doctoral fellow in NYU's Department of
Psychology and its Center for Neural Science, the researchers wanted to
explore the process of first impression formation.

Thus, they
designed an experiment in which they examined the brain activity, when
the participants made initial evaluations of fictional individuals
after they were given written profiles of 20 individuals implying
different personality traits.

The profiles, presented along with
pictures of fictional individuals, included scenarios indicating both
positive traits (e.g., intelligent) and negative ones (e.g., lazy) in
their depictions.

After reading the profiles, the participants were asked to evaluate how much they liked or disliked each profiled individual.

The impressions varied depending on how much each participant valued the different positive and negative traits conveyed.

this impression formation period, the participants' brain activity was
observed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

the basis of the participants' ratings, scientists could determine the
difference in brain activity when they encountered information that was
more, as opposed to less, important in forming the first impression.

neuroimaging results showed significant activity in two regions of the
brain during the encoding of impression-relevant information-the first,
the amygdala, is a small structure in the medial temporal lobe that
previously has been linked to emotional learning about inanimate
objects, as well as social evaluations based on trust or race group.

the second is the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), which has been
linked to economic decision-making and assigning subjective value to

The researchers found that these parts of the brain,
which are implicated in value processing in a number of domains, showed
increased activity when encoding information that was consistent with
the impression.

"Even when we only briefly encounter others,
brain regions that are important in forming evaluations are engaged,
resulting in a quick first impression," Nature magazine quoted one of
the authors of the study as saying.

concluded: "When encoding everyday social information during a social
encounter, these regions sort information based on its personal and
subjective significance, and summarize it into an ultimate score-a
first impression."

The study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience. (ANI)

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