As we form impressions of others, we organize the information in two important ways. Our Impressions are both integrated and unified. Traits, actions, appearance, and all of the other information we obtain about a person are closely connected in memory, even though the information may have been obtained in an interrupted or random fash¬ion. We might obtain some information today, more next week, some more in 2 months. During those 2 months, we interacted with many other people and developed impres¬sions of them as well. Nonetheless, we integrate each relevant experience with a particu¬lar person and perceive it as unified, a continuous block of information.
Consider Peg. You meet her and she tells you that she is about to have her first baby. You make a mental note about her situation and form some impressions about her per¬sonality. These impressions will be distinctive no matter how many other people you meet. When you encounter Peg later, you notice that she looks tired and disheveled. You remember her pregnancy and now infer that new motherhood must be a tiring business. You integrate this new information to maintain a coherent impression of her.
Our first encounter with someone also often contributes to an enduring impression we form. Primacy effect is the enduring quality of initial impressions. One reason for the primacy effect is that we pay less attention to subsequent information about the indi-vidual (Anderson, 1965). The next time you want to impress someone, a wise strategy is to make sure that you put your best foot forward in your first encounter.
Social Comparison. How many times have you asked yourself questions such as "Am 1 as smart as Jill?" "Is Bob better looking than I am?" or "Is my taste as good as Carmen's?" We gain self-knowledge from our own behavior; we also gain it from others through social comparison, the process in which individuals evaluate their thoughts, feelings, behav¬iors, and abilities in relation to other people. Social comparison helps individuals to evalu¬ate themselves tell them what their distinctive characteristics are, and aid them in build¬ing an identity.
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