I watched a TV programme today on how we make judgments. The point of the programme is that the brain makes its mind up in just a tenth of a second on a person they meet for the first time.

How many times have you heard that interviews are won or lost in the first 2 minutes or even 30 seconds.

Lost Job

I knew one guy who had lost the job before he even arrived at the place where he was to be interviewed. He made the mistake of calling up the guy who was to interview him to ask where it would be safe to park his Porsche.

The interviewer was a permanently employed manager  and the interviewee was a contractor who would be earning more than the manager if he got the job.

When the manager put the phone down he told me the guy wasn’t getting the job and told me why. “Flash contractor” he said.

Comparing Politicians

The TV Programme showed us three sets of two pictures. It showed us the two candidates in an election and asked us who did we think had won. It did this with three sets of candidates.

Guess what?

Myself and my daughter picked the winning candidate all three times just by looking at a photo of them.

Indeed, those running the programme said that in any election, when people who don’t know them are shown the two candidates, in 70% of all cases they are able to pick the winner.

Think of that!

They are more than twice as many times as they are wrong – and all they got was a brief picture of the candidates.

The brain makes instant judgments. It has to.


In terms of politicians, it seems that they judge the person’s face for two things, competence and trustworthiness.

Martin and Mary had better hope that they have competent and trustworthy faces. Martin has the advantage for the first one in that people can judge his record for competency in the job.

Of course, many people know both and can make a judgment for both categories based on their knowledge of them but others don’t know them too well.


In terms of trustworthiness, they showed you a picture of three people. Well, it was all the same person, but in the 2nd picture they masculinised the face a little and in the 3rd they masculinised the face a lot.

We both picked the first picture as being most trustworthy.

It seems that the more masculine a face is the less trustworthy people assume they are.

It’s the reverse when it comes to competency.

So, people are weighing up both when they make up their minds – and their brains make up their minds about people in just a tenth of a second.

Election Time

When they are going round the doors at election time it must be a bit scary for them to know that they have a tenth of a second to impress when someone opens their door.

Martin, Mary – before you’ve had a chance to say even a word, the person opening the door will have made up their minds on your competency and your trustworthiness – and they are more than twice as likely to be right as wrong.

As male politicians are more likely to be seen as competent by people and female politicians are more likely to be seen as trustworthy, it would make sense for female politicians to work on showing their competence and for male politicians to work on showing that they are trustworthy.

So, I suppose a good campaign slogan for a woman would be “She Get’s Things Done” And for a male politician it would be “You Can Trust Him”.