[Viewpoint]First impressions become sad reality

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[Viewpoint]First impressions become sad reality

When you judge a person, the first impression has tremendous impact. When you are told someone is smart, you would think of him as “wise and virtuous” if you had a good impression, whereas you would judge him to be “smart, yet scant in virtue” if the first impression was negative. A computer would not be blinded by a first impression, but humans have a hard time getting over it.
Psychologist Solomon Asch didd an experiment on two groups of people. On a certain person, Group A was informed, “He is smart - diligent - impulsive - critical - stubborn - jealous.” Group B was given the same set of adjectives in the reverse order. As a result, Group A evaluated the person far more positively than Group B. Lee Min-gyu wrote in “The 1% Difference of Attractive People” that information received first is far more influential than information received later.
In politics, the first impression often determines the success and failure of a politician. President Roh Moo-hyun is well-known for benefiting from a good first impression.
As soon as he entered politics through the 13th National Assembly elections in 1988, Mr. Roh emerged as a star of the National Assembly panel, investigating the corruption and wrongdoing of the Fifth Republic. He dug into the faults of the powerful, who had once held unchallenged power over the citizens.
Later, he declined to join the merger of the three parties, and when regional antagonism peaked, he came forward as a candidate of Kim Dae-jung’s Honam-based Democratic Party in Busan several times. He established an image as a politician who faced down regional antagonism in politics. And his 2002 presidential election victory largely happened due to that positive first impression.
A first impression seldom changes, especially when it is full of support and love.
How can you hate and turn your back on the president who you voted for and whom you saved from impeachment?
However, having been constantly hurt by the remarks made by the president and those around him, as well as being disappointed by their incompetence, you have been forced to change your mind.
Some say that what a company sells is not its product, but its image. In that sense, the Roh Moo-hyun brand has already lost confidence. Therefore, even those citizens who acknowledge the need for a constitutional revision oppose the revision by Mr. Roh. The citizens are now crying out that they do not like anything he initiates.
Human beings avoid information and situations that contradict their own perceptions.
In the 1950s in the United States, a religious cult leader advocated an apocalypse theory and urged his followers to donate all of their fortune because the end was near. The time of his prediction came, but the world did not end. Then the cult leader claimed that the beliefs of the followers saved the world. And here came the interesting reaction from the followers. Instead of protesting against the leader, they rejoiced and celebrated the redemption.
If they were to get angry at the leader, they would have to acknowledge their foolishness, so it was their way of justifying their decision.
Based on such behavior, social psychologist Leon Festinger proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance. The theory is often cited when trying to analyze the behavior of the supporters of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, after the truth about his stem cell research was revealed.
President Roh Moo-hyun and those in the Blue House are showing clear signs of self-hypnosis. They argue, “There are no policy mistakes except for too much income polarization,” and say, “Those who worked for democratization can not be incompetent.”
In short, they feel wrongfully accused. Instead of acknowledging their failure, they decide to blame others. They argue that the media are responsible for having interrupted and distorted communications between the president and the citizens, and that the citizens do not understand the president’s true intentions.
“I have worked hard to win support from the citizens, but it didn’t work,” President Roh said. However, the citizens do not know when he tried. “So now I won’t mind the support of the citizens and will go my own way as my conscience and beliefs lead me,” he added.
He is the president of the country, not a prisoner of conscience. Such misguided conviction and lack of sincerity made his supporters turn away. If he doesn’t change in the remaining year, it is a real pity for the citizens.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Du-woo
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