Massage therapists who are confident in their self-assessments tend to know whether or not they have made a good impression on a potential client, new research suggests.

Psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis and Wake Forest University have tested people in first-impression settings in the laboratory and have found that confidence makes all the difference in knowing whether you’ve hit a homerun or struck out.

Erika N. Carlson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences; her advisor Simine Vazire, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology; and Wake Forest University’s R. Michael Furr, Ph.D., engaged some 280 students in opposite-sex pairings from both universities in five-minute conversation after which impressions (your rating of your partner’s personality traits) and metaperceptions (your rating of how you think your partner rated your personality traits) were recorded on 60 personality items (such as nice, funny, outgoing), which were rated on a scale from 1 to 7.

There was a twist to their study. The researchers asked a confidence question: How confident are you in your estimation of how your partner sees your personality?

“In the past, researchers hadn’t asked whether you know when you’re accurate in first impressions, nor your degree of confidence,” Carlson says.

“We found that people who were poor at making good meta-impressions were less confident than people who made accurate ones. So, after making a first impression, if you’re confident in your judgment, you’re likely to be right.”

At the crux of knowing you’ve made a good impression is something called calibration, or “being confident when you’re right and uncertain when you’re wrong,” says Vazire. “Not well-calibrated people are confident when they’re wrong and uncertain when they’re right.

The research was recently published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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