The Impact of Your Image on Your Success
I don’t love discussing politics or politicians and it’s not something that you may expect to see on a style blog, but as people in the public eye and when there is a general election around the corner in Australia, there is often media speculation and discussion about the image of each of the candidates. I often get asked for comment on the image of our leaders and what they wear by the media and after a recent interview with Dee Dee in the Afternoons on 3AW (a local Melbourne talk radio station) where I was asked about some of the research on politicians’ image and does it really matter I thought I’d share with you just some of the fascinating research I’ve learned about.
Listen to the Interview
Current First Impressions Research
According to Professor Alexander Todorov from Princeton University, a first impression is made in just 1/10th of a second! The old statistics of 30 seconds or 8 seconds are gone. We live in a very visual age (all those phone screens and computer screens and TV screens) has our brains adapting to visual images even faster than ever. If you watch an old TV series or movie you can often feel the action is “slow” compared to a similar one today where there are so many quick cuts from scene to scene. Our ability to process visual information has sped up and become more acute as we’ve begun to rely more and more on it (and less on our other senses of sound and touch).
In that very quick first impression we decide on these 4 aspects of a person, how:
they are. Sure it’s not everything about a person but these are some pretty important factors for most of us. Want to be seen as a leader? Then you need to be seen as dominant, competent, and trustworthy. Want to make a new friend? Well, likeability and trustworthiness are probably pretty important. Want to get a new job? Then competence and trustworthiness have got to be traits that are right up there.
You can start to see that making the right impression can help you get whatever it is you want in life, whether it’s in your career or personal life. This is why taking control of your personal image (your image is part of what is called, a personal brand) is such a powerful tool to help you achieve what you want more easily. As design elements that are in clothing and grooming all help to signal information to the world, from the shapes and styles, the fabric and fit to the colours and contrasts you choose, each of these are communicating before you’ve opened your mouth.
From caveman times onwards we have been using clothes and symbols to indicate information to those in our community about our status and beliefs. From the robes of religious leaders to the outfits of the country leaders or monarchy. Even though our dress codes in much of the western world have become so much more casual than they’ve ever been, style and image are still very important ways of communicating essential aspects of your personality and beliefs. As I’ve written about before here, as the saying goes, we all do judge books by their covers.
More Attractive People Are Favoured
Research has shown that in countries around the world (both east and west) that:
Attractive people are favoured by society and get benefits that the more ordinary is denied. They are:
- More likely to be employed,
- Receive more substantial pay
- Obtain loans more easily
- Get better terms in negotiations
- Have more attractive and highly educated spouses
That’s just for starters! Why is this? Well from the time we are babies, humans are drawn to and enjoy looking at attractive things, in fact, studies have found that babies will stare longer at more attractive faces than those that are less aesthetically pleasing. We love to enjoy the spectacle of a beautiful sunset or gaze upon a delicate flower. We also love looking at people we deem more attractive too, this is why Hollywood and Bollywood alike are packed to the brim with attractive people who also spend a lot of time, energy and money maintaining their good looks.
Does Being More Attractive Help You Win an Election?
Australian research found that a more attractive candidate is associated with around a 2 % increase in their share of the vote (and in Germany, it’s pretty similar and in Finland this percentage is even higher at 2.5-2.8%). This is larger for men than women in politics – for women it only increases their vote by around .just under 1% in Australia, yet outside of politics, there is very interesting research on attractiveness and success that says for women your image may be even more important than it is for men.
Does Having Good Personal Presentation Help You Earn More Money?
Having good personal presentation (everyone can make themselves more attractive by good grooming and wearing clothes that are in harmony with their body) have been found to increase your pay packet, without having to work harder. Depending on the country you’re in, the differential between the salaries of the unattractive and the attractive is between 10% – 25% according to research done by Hamermesh and Biddle.
So when people say things to me such as “does anyone notice what I wear or look like?” my answer is always a resounding “yes!” as so much research has found that others react more positively to you when you present yourself in a more aesthetically pleasing package.
Not only do others have a more positive impression of you when you are well-put-together, you will also feel more positively about yourself as improving your style and image has been shown to improve self-esteem which improves your confidence.
It’s really a win-win equation in my book.
You are Your Own Personal Brand
That’s right – you have a personal brand, it’s the impression you leave, how people think and speak about you, and you have control over much of this through your appearance, behaviour, and the way you communicate. Your appearance is an important place to start as it’s communicating (as I mentioned earlier) without you having to open your mouth. What’s great, is that you get to choose how it’s communicating. Even something as simple as taking a couple of extra minutes in the morning to do your hair or to put on your best jeans that fit well and are in good condition can make a difference, rather than running out the door with hair that looks a bit unkempt or your comfy bit too baggy and saggy as they’ve gotten stretched out of shape, will have an impact on how you are communicating non-verbally.
You may not be able to control everything in your life, but your image does influence how people treat you and what they think about you, and this has a roll-on effect into other aspects of your life.
Do You Want to Improve Your Image?
If you really want to get a handle on your style and image, if you want to be the one in charge of how you’re perceived and what you are projecting then what you need as a style education as this is an essential part of your education that you never got at school yet has the power to influence so much of your life and why I’m so passionate about helping intelligent women define their personal brand image so they can express more of who they are and have the charisma that comes from confidence shine through and give them an edge. The difference of 10% a year in your pay packet over your working life is a lot! Or having more doors open and opportunities arise for you because you present well is something that you have control over. It’s a small daily investment for a potentially life-changing outcome!
Rather than putting this off and hoping that buying the latest fashions is enough, it’s time to take control and get your style education, which is why I created my 7 Steps to Style program, which starts with the most important aspect of style – understanding who you are, your personality, and how that impacts your style as well as giving you all the tools you need to understand which are the best colours and styles of clothing for your unique body. Plus it takes you through how to build a wardrobe based on these aspects as well as figuring out what you need for your lifestyle, taking into account your values as well. Find out more here and join now.
I totally agree that what you wear along with your grooming and personality affects how you are perceived by others. This, in turn, affects your professional life as well as your interactions with the public and with colleagues and acquaintances.