The Myth of the Seven-Eleven Rule

Ever heard about the Seven-Eleven Rule?

Neither had I. The seven-eleven rule is based on the belief that people make eleven decisions about a person in the first seven seconds after meeting them. Apparently, the eleven conclusions you make are the following:

  • Education Level
  • Economic Level
  • Perceived Credibility, Believability, Competence and Honesty
  • Trustworthiness
  • Level of Sophistication
  • Sex-Role Identification
  • Level of Success
  • Political Background
  • Religious Background
  • Ethnic Background
  • Social/ Professional / Sexual Desirability

It’s why some claim that you only have seven seconds to make a good first impression.

The seven-eleven rule is an intriguing idea but it doesn’t appear to be backed by research. The only reference I could find claimed the source was a “University study from Michael Solomon, PhD, Psychologist, Chairman, Marketing Department Graduate School of Business, NYU.”

I contacted Professor Solomon, now at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, to get a copy of the research. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. He replied:

Jonathan, this is an “urban myth” that I am asked about frequently. There is no such study that supports this claim.

Of course, there is lots of evidence that suggests people quickly make judgements about others with only limited information. There’s just no research that specifically quantifies it to be these 11 decisions in only 7 seconds. Regardless of the exact timeline and the number of decisions, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people when we first meet them.

Or, as we were taught when we were little, don’t judge a book by its cover.

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One Response to The Myth of the Seven-Eleven Rule

  1. Brad Borkan January 8, 2018 at 4:03 am #

    Fascinating. Is this similar to the concept Malcolm Gladwell proposes in his book called “Blink”?

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