What first meets the eye can be very misleading.
First impressions are so important, it's so easy to make
false assumptions about people who you don't know.
• Personal identity
• How we make assumptions about people
on the basis of very little real information.
• To compare how people differ in
their initial impressions of others
• To explore how our past experiences
colour our first impressions
• To become more aware of how our
impressions affect our behaviour towards others
4 - 12
• Select pictures from magazines
of people who have interesting/different/striking faces.
• Cut out the faces and stick them
at the top of a piece of paper leaving plenty of space underneath.
You will need to prepare one sheet per participant.
• Pencils, one per person
1. Ask the players sit in a circle and hand
out one sheet to each person.
2. Ask them to look at the picture and write
down their first impression of the person AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE PAGE.
3. Then ask them to turn the bottom of the
paper up to hide what they have written and to pass the
sheet on to the next person.
4. Tell the players to look at a second
picture and write down their first impression at the bottom
of the page just above the turn-up, then to turn the bottom
of the paper up again to hide what they have written and
pass it on.
5. Repeat until the papers have been round
the circle and everyone has seen every sheet.
6. Now unfold the papers and let everyone
compare the different 'first impression'.
Debriefing and evaluation
Talk about what happened and what you learnt:
• As a group?
• What surprises were there?
• What did you base your first impressions
• Describe and share instances when
you have had a completely wrong first impression of someone.
• What happened as a result?
• What did this activity reveal about
Tips for the facilitator
Before you start make sure everyone understands
the instructions. It will be useful to demonstrate where
players should write and how to turn the bottom of the paper
Keep the papers moving round fairly quickly,
don't let people think for too long. It's their first impressions
Avoid choosing pictures of famous people
Try to include a wide variety of people
including those of different ages, cultures, ethnic groups,
ability and disability etc.
Be prepared for some fierce arguments about
attitudes. Depending on the group size comments may not
always be anonymous. Do not let players criticise each other
for their opinions but focus the discussion on the actual
An alternative method which is good to use
if you have a large group is to copy the pictures onto an
overhead transparency and project them onto a screen. Ask
each participant to write their first impression on a numbered
slip of paper, collect the slips up after each round and
then read them out at the end.
Suggestions for follow up
Discuss introducing some new activities
into your group or organisation to give you an opportunity
to find out more about people who are different. E.g. invite
a speaker, show foreign films or have a cultural evening
including music from other countries.
If you enjoy working with images of people
try 'Portraits' and explore your ideas
about your images of people who are social losers and those
who are social winners. If you want to work with images
that we have of people from different countries use 'Antonio
You may wish to move on to encourage people
to express their opinions about a topic. 'The
dilemma game' described in chapter 1 of Compass is an
excellent technique for getting people to express their
first impressions/responses to an issue, and then to review
their opinions in the light of discussion. The activity,
'Where do you
stand?' in Compass uses 'the dilemma game' technique
to help people think about some of the complex issues associated
with protecting human rights.
A variation on 'The dilemma game' is described
in 'Tackling a statement'
in Domino, section 9.3.