From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The halo effect is a cognitive bias whereby the perception of one trait (i.e. a characteristic of a person or object) is influenced by the perception of another trait (or several traits) of that person or object. An example would be judging a good-looking person as more intelligent.
Halo effects happen especially if the perceiver does not have enough information about all traits, so that he makes assumptions based on one or two prominent traits—these one or two prominent traits "overshadow" other traits, similar to the radiation of light in optical halo effects or halos in iconography (rings of light around someone's head).
Edward L. Thorndike was the first to support the halo effect with empirical research. In a psychology study published in 1920, Thorndike asked commanding officers to rate their soldiers; he found high cross-correlation between all positive and all negative traits. People seem not to think of other individuals in mixed terms; instead we seem to see each person as roughly good or roughly bad across all categories of measurement.
A study by Solomon Asch suggests that attractiveness is a central trait, so we presume all the other traits of an attractive person are just as attractive and sought after.
The halo effect is involved in Harold Kelley's implicit personality theory, where the first traits we recognize in other people influence our interpretation and perception of later ones because of our expectations. Attractive people are often judged as having a more desirable personality and more skills than someone of average appearance.
Karen Dion's 1972 study showed the same result. She set an experiment in which she showed photographs to people, and asked them to make a judgment of the people in the photos. In the result, attractive people are assumed to have a good personality as well as being sexually warm and responsive.
The term is commonly used in human resources recruitment. It refers to the risk that an interviewer will notice a positive trait in an interviewee and, as a result, will overlook their negative traits (or vice versa).
Reverse halo effect
A corollary to the halo effect is the reverse halo effect where individuals, brands or other things judged to have a single undesirable trait are subsequently judged to have many poor traits, allowing a single weak point or negative trait to influence others' perception of the person, brand or other thing in general.
As a business model
In brand marketing, a halo effect is one where the perceived positive features of a particular item extend to a broader brand. It has been used to describe how the iPod has had positive effects on perceptions of Apple's other products. The term is also widely used in the automotive industry, where a manufacturer may produce an exceptional halo vehicle in order to promote sales of an entire marque. Modern cars often described as halo vehicles include the Dodge Viper, Ford GT, and Acura NSX.Template:Citation needed
In the 1970s, social psychologist Richard Nisbett demonstrated that even if we were told that our judgments have been affected by the halo effect, we may have no awareness of when the halo effect influences us.
- Affect heuristic
- Association fallacy
- Attribute substitution
- Confirmation bias
- List of cognitive biases