Background/Aims: Global impression is the first item in any psychopathological evaluation, as patients often elicit negative responses in other persons by a dysfunctional first impression formation. This can lead to interactional problems and stigmatization. This study tested to what degree the perception of “personality” can be changed by simple manipulations of the outer appearance of a person. Method: A total of 92 persons were given two different photos of the same female, one with hair combed back and the other with “open” curly hair. For each picture they made ratings on the Bipolar MED Rating Scale, which asks for judgements on 23 emotional impressions. Results: The rating on the “two” persons differed significantly for 16 of the 23 items. Curled open hair led to a more open-hearted and trusting impression, while the combed-back hair was perceived as more reserved, earnest, and defiant. Results were independent of age and gender. Conclusion: People come to far-reaching conclusions about the “personality” of other persons (first impression formation) based on the outer appearance. This opens treatment options for improving social interaction and fighting stigma in patients with mental disorders.

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