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Study: First impression has lasting impact

Dec. 11, 2010 at 1:44 AM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A study of U.S. medical students evaluating professors supports the conventional notion that first impressions tend to be lasting, researchers say.

First author John A. McNulty of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine asked 144 medical school students to evaluate 16 professors who lectured during a physiology course. Students had the option of evaluating each professor concurrently during the course, or waiting until the course ended.

The medical school student were allowed to change their minds before the evaluations were finalized at the end of the course. Twenty-six percent filled out evaluations during the course, 65 percent waited until the course ended and 9 percent did not submit evaluations, McNulty says.

The study, published in the journal Advances in Physiology Education, found the evaluation scores professors received on early evaluations were markedly similar to the scores they received on evaluations made after the course ended. Only 3 percent of evaluations were revised before the evaluations were finalized, the study says.

"Students tended not to change their scores and comments, regardless of the time they submitted their evaluations," the researchers say in a statement. "Hence, first impressions appear to be important."

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