Studying the Meta-Accuracy First Impressions in the Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Reality: Challenges and Opportunities Presented by Internet Research
Aim. Studying first impressions meta-accuracy (how accurately we understand the
first impressions others form about us) is central to enhancing the communication process.
It typically requires experimental settings with at least minimal interactions between targets and perceivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered face-to-face laboratory setups
almost impossible. Fortunately, the Internet offers a virtual environment where the metaaccuracy of first impressions could be studied safely. We review the opportunities and
challenges associated with the Internet study of meta-accuracy and make a call for action
to address them.
Concept. In certain ways the Internet facilitates the study of first impressions metaaccuracy. It is simpler and faster online, compared to the lab, to look at fi rst impressions
in asynchronous settings, such as email and social media updates, where targets present
themselves via images and/or text and perceivers later form impressions based on this
information. The Internet research solution, however, also comes with an array of difficulties. Synchronous communication settings, where targets and perceivers exchange information without delay, (e.g., instant messaging), present three major types of challenges to
study of first impression meta-accuracy—conceptual (e.g., differences between online and
offline first impression situations), technological (e.g., implementation of chat applications in
Internet surveys), and policy-driven (e.g., GDPR).
Conclusions. The opportunities and challenges presented by the Internet in the study
of first impression meta-accuracy also apply to the larger field of studying human interaction online. Discussing and addressing them has the potential to enhance Internet research
tools and practices for the humanities and social sciences.
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Copyright (c) 2021 ELENA TSANKOVA, ERGYUL TAIR
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