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Think your douchebag detector is finely tuned? You may not be as good at reading people as you think.
Friend or Foe?: When we meet people, within milliseconds we make all sorts of instinctive judgments about them based on facial cues and expressions. Research also shows that we over-inflate our own abilities to quickly size people up.
We may favor people who look like someone we know, or subconsciously trust certain people, such as the elderly, over others. Some biases are even wired into our instincts—studies have found faces with a wider distance between the eyes and eyebrows and people with brown eyes are viewed as more trustworthy.
Put on a happy face, or there will be consequences: People are more likely to trust those who have a generally cheery expression. Your friend with “resting bitch face” is probably seen as untrustworthy, and trying to cover up that constant sourpuss only makes it worse. Flashing a big smile when someone is watching only makes you look more sketchy, impression-management consultant Judson Vaughn told the Wall Street Journal.
Jeez, we are so judgy: There is hope. First, stop making snap judgments yourself. And, when you do meet a new person (or potential employer, date or parole officer), there are some things you can do to come off as less dodgy. Stand up straight, look people in the eye, lean forward and focus when someone speaks to you. Smile in response to things in the conversation (not constantly, like you skin rabbits in your spare time), and whatever you do, never ever sneeze into your hand before shaking someone else’s. It’s flu season, people, and eck, gross!