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Impression – Concept, Components, Types, Examples, MCQs | Types of Perceptual Errors


An impression is also one of the types of perceptual error. The term impression in psychology refers to the mental image or perception a person develops about someone or something based on a variety of cues, information, and experiences. As a result, an impression or judgment is formed by subjectively interpreting and evaluating the information available.

In order to form impressions, sensory information from the environment must be gathered and processed through the process of perception. It is, however, important to note that impressions are subjective and not purely based on factual information. In addition to cognitive biases, personal experiences, social context, and individual interpretations, they are also influenced by subjective factors.

Cognitive shortcuts or heuristics are commonly used when people form impressions to speed up the processing of information. These shortcuts can help individuals process information efficiently, but they can also lead to erroneous judgments.

Components of Impression

It is possible to break down impressions into three main components: central traits, peripheral traits, and affective reactions. Let’s discuss these components below:

Components of Impression

i. Central Traits:

Central traits are those core qualities or characteristics that have a significant impact on how an impression is formed. These traits tend to have a pervasive influence and shape how an individual is perceived overall. Compared to peripheral traits, central traits typically carry a greater weight in impression formation.

Among the central characteristics of individuals are honesty, intelligence, warmth, competence, and friendliness. These characteristics play a significant role in influencing how they are perceived as well as shaping their impressions. Individuals with a warm and friendly personality may be viewed as approachable and trustworthy, whereas those with intelligence and competence may be viewed as capable and trustworthy.

ii. Peripheral Traits:

A peripheral trait is a secondary attribute or quality that has less influence on forming an overall impression than a central attribute. A person’s perception of these characteristics may not be influenced as much as enduringly as those of central traits as they may be more specific and context-dependent.

Physical traits, such as appearance, grooming, clothing style, and body language, can be categorized as peripheral traits. An individual’s peripheral traits can influence their initial reactions, as well as specific aspects of their impression. Even if they do not define an individual’s overall impression, they can still influence certain behaviors, mannerisms, interests, or hobbies.

The perception of central traits can be influenced by peripheral traits, which can initially draw attention and influence the perception of central traits. In general, central traits tend to have a more lasting impact as individuals gain more information and experience interactions.

iii. Affective Reactions:

The term “affective reactions” refers to the feelings and emotional responses an individual experiences during the impression-forming process. These emotions can significantly influence the impression acquired.

It is possible to experience positive, negative, or neutral affective reactions based on a range of factors, such as behavior, demeanor, or the congruence of their traits with one’s own preferences. A person who consistently demonstrates kindness and empathy may, for example, elicit positive affective reactions, which may result in a more favorable impression.

Similarly, rudeness or dishonesty may induce negative affective responses, resulting in a less favorable impression.

An individual’s affective reactions can influence the emotional tone associated with the impression formed by this evaluation and interpretation.

Types of Impressions

A person’s impression can be categorized based on a number of factors and contexts. In particular, there are four basic types of impressions:

Types of Impressions

i. Initial Impression:

An initial impression is a judgment or perception formed at the beginning of a relationship or during the first encounter. Based on limited information, they are often based on a person’s physical appearance, nonverbal cues, and first few moments of interaction. Initial impressions tend to last and can have a lasting impact on subsequent interactions and judgments.

In addition to laying the foundation for subsequent perceptions and evaluations, these impressions play a crucial role in setting expectations.

ii. Personal Impressions:

A person’s personal impression is a judgment or evaluation made based on the individual’s characteristics, qualities, and behaviors. Developing these impressions requires more extended interactions and an in-depth understanding of a person’s personality, values, attitudes, and behaviors. There are three components that shape personal impressions: central traits, peripheral traits, and affective reactions.

iii. Professional Impressions:

Professional impressions occur in work or professional settings and are based on assessing an individual’s competence, skills, and professional qualities. Professional appearance, communication skills, level of expertise, work ethic, and professionalism all play a role in creating these impressions. Interviews, networking events, and workplace interactions all involve professional impressions.

iv. Social Impressions:

A social impression is an impression formed within a social setting, such as a social gathering, a party, or an informal interaction. In order to form these impressions, individuals must possess social skills, friendliness, likeability, and be able to converse effectively. In social contexts, social impressions describe how individuals are perceived, and they can influence acceptance, inclusion, and interpersonal relationships.

The impressions described here are not mutually exclusive and can overlap in various settings. In a job interview, for example, both initial impressions and professional impressions shape a person’s overall perception. As individuals acquire more information about the individual and gain more experience with them, their personal impressions can also evolve over time.

Moreover, it is crucial to recognize that stereotypes, biases, and individual differences can influence impressions. Before making judgments or evaluations, it is essential to gather comprehensive information, stay open-minded, and consider multiple perspectives.

Examples related to Impression

Some of the examples related to impression are as follows:

i. Job Interviews:

While interviewing for a job, you must make an impression on the interviewer. Your appearance, demeanor, and communication skills can greatly influence their opinion of your suitability.

ii. Business Meeting:

In business meetings, the impression you create can have a significant impact on the outcome. Having a strong presence, being confident, and being articulate can all contribute to the success of the meeting.

iii. Online Presence:

Today, impressions are not limited to face-to-face interactions. The way others perceive you can be shaped by your online presence, including your social media profiles, blog posts, and comments. Depending on your online activity, employers, colleagues, and even friends may form impressions.

iv. Networking Events:

A networking event is an excellent opportunity to expand your professional circle and make connections. When you make the right impression during these events, others may remember you and want to engage with you in the future. Being approachable, friendly, and knowledgeable can lead to future collaborations and opportunities.

v. Customer Service:

Creating a positive impression with customers can significantly impact their loyalty and satisfaction in customer service roles. In contrast, negative or indifferent interactions can lead to loss of business and damage to the company’s reputation, resulting in a negative impression.

vi. Presentations and Public Speaking:

You can influence the audience’s perception of your message when delivering a presentation or speaking in public. If you speak with confidence, clarity, and engagement, you can persuade and captivate your listeners, whereas poor preparation and poor communication skills can undermine your message and leave a negative impression.

Impression MCQs/Quiz

Some of the MCQs related to Impression are as follows:

i. What is the term used to describe the overall impact or effect that someone or something has on others based on their appearance, behavior, or communication?

  • A) Expression
  • B) Perception
  • C) Impression
  • D) Interaction

Answer: C) Impression

ii. True or False: First impressions have little to no impact on how individuals are perceived in subsequent interactions.

  • A) True
  • B) False

Answer: B) False

iii. Which of the following can contribute to the overall perception and reputation of a person or entity?

  • A) Body language
  • B) Communication skills
  • C) Appearance
  • D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

iv. In the context of job interviews, which factors can influence the impression you make on the interviewer?

  • A) Appearance
  • B) Demeanor
  • C) Communication skills
  • D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

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Bijisha Prasain

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