According to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, when we judge a book by its cover we might actually be right. It looks like the way we perceive things has a lot to do with how they look, and that perception has a big impact on reality.Scientific American elaborates on the study:
Scientists presented photos of 20 neighborhoods to nearly 150 volunteers. After seeing the photos, the subjects were asked to rate the strength of ties between residents and their ability to protect the neighbourhood against crime. These ratings were compared with those of actual residents. And the subjects' impressions strongly matched the perceptions of the actual residents.
When asked about trust, the subjects of the study tended to trust the residents of a particular neighbourhood more if that neighbourhood looked nice. The biggest factors? Well-kept grass and larger amounts of vegetation. It seems that if you keep things in order and plant a few plants, you'll visually attract people who are interested in living in a safe environment. When that first impression brings these like-minded people together, that drive for a safe living environment actually comes to fruition as it's a desire of the residents in the neighbourhood.
While a well-maintained lawn isn't going to reduce the crime rate, if you can convince your neighbours to do the same it might eventually attract enough people to make that kind of impact.
First Impressions Can Be Quite Accurate [Scientific American]