I have a question for you this week: Have you ever met someone the first impression of whom has been quite negative and found it difficult to ever shake that initial impression – even if they are subsequently quite nice to you? Well, this week I want to share research from the University of Chicago that may explain why this can often be the case and that it is nothing to be concerned about as many other people are likely to experience the same phenomenon.
In the research psychologists call the area we are referring to as the ‘moral tipping point’ and they suggest that we humans find it far more difficult to overcome a negative impression and turn it into a positive one than we do when it comes to turning a positive impression into a negative one.
To illustrate the point, imagine a set of scales. What the psychologists are suggesting are that negative impressions hold much more ‘weight’ and have more of an impact. Therefore we need to witness far more positive impressions of someone to balance and then outweigh a negative one. The practical impact means that if someone who you initially thought of as positive does something you perceive to be negative you may start to think of them in a negative way (rather than, logically, not having any particularly positive or negative feelings towards them).
This week I am therefore challenging you to keep your eye open to people who you are treating unfairly based on this bias. Is there someone in your professional or personal life who deserves a level playing field in order for you to connect with them? It is quite possible you are sabotaging a relationship based on this common and unconscious bias.
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Have a good week,
The Meetology® Lab
Klein, N., & O’Brien, E. (2016). The Tipping Point of Moral Change:When Do Good and Bad Acts Make Good and Bad Actors?. Social Cognition, 34(2), 149