Don’t just take our word for it. It’s science.
Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions for well over a decade, and she’s unearthed scientific proof of something that we here at C1M have been saying for years: establishing trustworthiness is essential to a favorable first impression. We believe this so strongly that we’ve even developed a system for crafting headshots that caters to what we call the Trustworthiness Imperative™. In her new book, Presence, Cuddy goes on to state that her research has revealed that people judge us on two criteria when they first meet us: whether they can trust us, and whether they can respect us.
But isn’t being respected the most important thing?
In a business setting, where you’re meeting people whom you want to work with or whom you hope to be hired by, it’s easy to conclude that your respectability – or, as psychologists translate it, your competence – is the most important quality to convey. In fact, Cuddy found that many people do believe just that. But, as it turns out, that isn’t quite correct. Research shows that it is trustworthiness, or warmth, that is the most important factor in how people evaluate you. More than that, even, Cuddy determined that in the absence of trustworthiness, competence can be perceived as threatening. And this is exactly the opposite of the first impression that most of us would hope to make.
When you start with the right foundation, you build something solid.
Trustworthiness is the foundation your first impression needs to rest upon. Once it’s been established, competence assumes its rightful place as an asset that a client or employer will value, rather than perceive as threatening. Alexander Todorov, a researcher at Princeton University, has shown that once someone has evaluated you as trustworthy, they are more likely to perceive you as intelligent, attractive and emotionally stable, and also more likely to rate you as less aggressive. So you can see that with trustworthiness come favorable judgements in several important areas.
In this internet-driven era, when many business relationships begin online after a Google search or a peek at LinkedIn, your headshots, more often than not, are your first-impression tool. You have to be able to rely on them to show you as trustworthy at a mere glance – as that’s all they may get from those who view them. That’s why, when we craft our headshots, we hone in on portraying trustworthiness first.
When your first impression comes from headshots trustworthiness is a must.
Now the question becomes how you demonstrate your trustworthiness. In person, such things as tone of voice, a firm handshake, and attentiveness to your conversational partner can go a long way towards influencing someone to evaluate you as trustworthy. Of course, when your first impression is made by a static image, those things are absent. So, what can you do? We’ve developed a systematic approach to crafting headshots that addresses this very question. And it’s all in the details – over two dozen details, in fact, that we look at and fine tune on a personalized basis for each client. It has to be that way, because, as Todorov’s research showed, demonstrating trustworthiness through a static image depends entirely on facial geometry – and everyone’s is different. What might look merely assertive and confident on one set of facial features might look aggressive on another. One person’s warm smile might be another’s goofy grin or barely-veiled snarl.
We bring all our years of experience to bear to make sure that every detail of your headshot shows you as trustworthy. We take our time to eliminate any distraction from that message. We know what scientists like Todorov and Cuddy have spent their careers proving: trustworthiness is imperative to your first impression.
Walter Schnecker, CPP, CPC, CCH
Walter Schnecker is the owner of C1M Photography, LLC, in Amherst NH. He specializes in Executive Business Headshots and loves using his years of experience in the industry to provide each and every client with a polished, professional and, most importantly, effective headshot.
Jun. 06, 2016 Executive Headshots,Social Media No Comments