A Harvard psychologist says people judge you based on 2 criteria when they first meet you

When it comes to people, we can say with certainty that they judge you.

But based on what exactly are they judging on?

Amy Cuddy (a Harvard Business School Professor) has been studying first impressions, in that endeavor, Susan Fiske and Peter Glick have been his associates for more than 15 years. Apparently, there are patterns when it comes down to these situations.

Amy Cuddy

In “Presence, the author (Amy Cuddy) states that 2 questions are posed and answered, and obvious ones for that matter, the first moment you present yourself:

  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. Can I respect this person?

These dimensions are reffered to as warmth and competence within psychology. Honestly, you want to be perceived as having both.


In the business world, surprisingly (or not), the primary attribute of importance is considered to be competence (after all you don’t want someone incompetent to handle your money or business), but in fact, trustworthiness is actually the factor based on which people evaluate you.

According to Cuddy – “From an evolutionary perspective, it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.”

When it comes down to it though, it does make sense as after all, back when we were cavemen, it was more important to figure out whether your fellow man will kill you, or, if he was competent enough to build a good fire.

Although competence is regarded highly, in the end, Cuddy says that it’s only relevant after there is trust enabled between the two parties. Also, if you focus too much on displaying your “forte”, it can backfire.


According to Cuddy, MBA interns are concerned way too often whether they come across smart, and that makes the skip social events, not ask for help and also makes them look unapproachable.

Cuddy says:

If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.


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