Young people often find it hard to accept that external markers like punctuality and personal appearance can make or break a career, at least in the early years. The fact is that human cognition is embarrassingly superficial. Making quick judgments based on appearances is an unconscious survival strategy. We view one another in shorthand, using a few external markers as clues to a person’s nature.
It’s important that we strive as individuals and a society to see beyond appearances and to evaluate one another in greater depth, but in reality first impressions are powerful.
This is nowhere more true than in politics, where a simple slip of the tongue or the wrong choice of shoes can lodge itself indelibly in voters’ minds, prejudicing them permanently against a candidate.