The Halo Effect

And the science of first impressions.

The “Why” of things is very important to me, and I keep reading and researching, because if it doesn’t make sense to me, how can I help YOU make sense of it?

There are many “Whys” behind the science of first impressions. I’m going to talk about one of them…

This is a Cognitive Bias (cognitive: relating to conscious intellectual activity). It is the tendency or bias in the judgments of an organisation, group of people, or an individual when assessing a particular thing whether it be a food, person, business, etc. 
It can be applied to almost any situation or choice.
It has been researched by psychologists over and over again and was first coined by Edward Thorndike in 1920 when he first studied how commanding officers in the military rate their soldiers.

This is also a specific type of Confirmation Bias — the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

What does it mean?
Simply put, it is the phenomenon with which we assume that because people are good at doing or being A, they will be good at doing or being B, C, and D. 
The Reverse Halo Effect also called the Horn Effect also holds — because they are bad at doing or being A they will be bad at doing or being B, C and D.

How does it work in real life?

> It is most commonly associated with the effect that physical attractiveness has on the way that we judge people and their other characteristics. We have a tendency to judge attractive people as being, for example, more trustworthy, dependable, loyal and intelligent, than their unattractive counterparts. (Also researched in other studies on visual communication.)

> Attractiveness is itself influenced by several traits — physical traits predominantly, and then the way someone dresses up, behaves and communicates.

> A person’s positive qualities, physical appearance, and general attractiveness affects how we judge their character — the better they look and behave, the better a person we judge them to be.

> More attractive people are judged to have more desirable personalities, to lead happier lives in general, have happier marriages, be better parents, and have more career success than the others. Also, attractive people are believed to be more likely to hold secure, prestigious jobs compared to unattractive individuals.

> People who look intelligent are also rated highly on perceived friendliness and sense of humor.

> Marketers take advantage of the halo effect to sell products and services. When a celebrity spokesperson endorses a particular item, our positive evaluations of that individual can spread to our perceptions of the product itself.

> Look at Apple. The iPod Halo Effect continues to iPad, iPhones and Mac.

> Subway’s brand image as a “healthy” variety of fast food causes consumers to underestimate the caloric content of its dishes.

> We trust a politician to make good decisions because he seems warm and friendly and has great hair and a bright smile. (Previous POTUS vs Current POTUS!)

> If a prospective employer views the job applicant as attractive or likable, he is more likely to also rate the individual as intelligent, competent, and qualified.

> Annual performance reviews are subject to The Halo Effect. Some managers assume that if an employee is proficient in some elements of the appraisal, then he is proficient in all of them. This can work the other way, as well (The Horn Effect)- an employee seen as ineffective in one or two aspects of his job can be given the general label of incompetent.

> A sales professional who is proficient at bringing in new accounts and generating revenue is promoted to the position of vice president of sales. Unfortunately, he may not know the first thing about being a company executive!

> Incompetent employees in a department can, by use of the halo effect, drag down the reputation for the rest of the group. For example, if the payroll group in the accounting department consistently makes mistakes on employee paychecks, then the halo effect would allow the rest of the company to assume that no one in the accounting department can do their job properly.

> Much of our thinking about company performance is shaped by the halo effect … when a company is growing and profitable, we tend to infer that it has a brilliant strategy, a visionary CEO, motivated people, and a vibrant culture. When performance falters, we’re quick to say the strategy was misguided, the CEO became arrogant, the people were complacent, and the culture stodgy.

So, The Halo Effect persists in humanity and to such wide reaching consequences that it can’t be explained in one note.

Understand it, know it, accept it, and leverage it! Have people create a positive predisposition towards you instead of negative!