"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." This popular saying seems to suggest that once first impressions are formed, it is impossible to undo them. Is this true? When and how can we change first impressions? These questions become especially important when there is no clear evidence that our first impressions are accurate. In addition, things evolve. How do people respond to changed situations or other individuals? With these questions in mind, my research examines how people form first impressions and under what conditions first impressions can be changed, with an emphasis on impressions that are implicit (formed unintentionally), which have traditionally been described as difficult to change compared with explicit (intentional) evaluations. Under this theme, I have several ongoing projects:
Appearance-based impression formation and updating
In this line of work, we look at impressions formed based on facial trustworthiness, a crucial trait in person perception. We have found that although it is not easy to change implicit evaluations, the negativity toward people with untrustworthy faces in fact can be reversed when and only when extremely positive behavioral information is provided, and vise versa for implicit evaluations toward those with trustworthy faces.
We have also identified certain qualities of the behavioral information that are important for effectively changing implicit impressions based on facial trustworthiness, including the perceived reliability of the information. We also have tested the stability of the updated impressions over time as well as the behavioral consequences of the changed impressions.
Changing views toward stigmatized group members
Psychological science shows that people often hold prejudice toward certain groups of people. I have been especially interested in biases toward individuals with mental health problems or addiction issues, as well as individuals who have been incarcerated. Are there any circumstances under which we can change people's negative implicit biases toward these groups? If so, what are they? One line of my research focuses on changing people's evaluations toward ex-convicts. Our recent work shows that people easily change their explicit evaluations toward ex-convicts once they learn about the target’s redeeming behaviors. However, participants do not seem to show any change in their implicit negativity toward these individuals. Importantly, people's implicit evaluations of ex-convicts can uniquely predict their future behavioral inclinations toward the targets. In another line of my research, we have examined people's views toward those who are addicted to opioids. Our results show that different types of information show differential effectiveness in terms of changing people's implicit and explicit evaluations.
Attitudes toward Asians during Covid-19
Are there differences in individual cognitive characteristics that lead to more or less impression updating?
How are updated evaluations being represented? We use mouse tracking to trace memory representations in impression updating.
In addition to these areas, I am also extending the work to the field of perception of robots in addition to human beings.
Other lines of work:
What is the signaling function of anger?
Anger is commonly perceived as a negative emotion. However, why do people express this costly emotion when they don't have to?
How might different types of threats change people’s threshold of categorization based on faces?