What Difference Can a Minute Make? Social Skills and First Impressions of Youth With Craniofacial Differences

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Objective:To determine whether raters’ first impressions of youth with craniofacial differences are modifiable.Design:Observational study of the association between first impressions and social skills as related to youth aged 11 to 18 years with craniofacial differences.Setting:University research offices and clinics.Participants:Youth aged 11 to 18 years with (n = 29) and without (n = 31) craniofacial differences; adults (n = 40), dental/medical students (n = 46), and education students (n = 29), all without craniofacial differences. Participants were recruited from medical clinics and through community advertising at all three study sites.Outcome Measures:The First Impressions Rating Scale.Results:After viewing 1-minute portrayals of positive social skills by actors with craniofacial differences, raters’ perceptions moved significantly in the positive direction for all 26 attributes on the First Impressions Rating Scale; whereas, after viewing negative social skills, ratings moved significantly in the negative direction for 25 of 26 First Impressions Rating Scale attributes.Conclusions:It appears that first impressions others have of youth with craniofacial differences are significantly affected by how these youth present themselves in social situations, suggesting that positive social skills may help reduce the amount of stigma that youth with craniofacial differences encounter.

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