Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Halo Effect

What is "The Halo Effect"?

The Halo Effect is the likelihood to associate a person's characteristics with global stereotypical characteristics. This effect happens unconsciously, we do not realize that we are pairing personality traits with global characteristics.

How was The Halo Effect discovered?

Edward Thorndike discovered The Halo Effect in 1920 when he asked two officers to judge their soldiers based on their physical and mental/social characteristics.

- Noticed that soldiers who were evaluated as neat at a high level, other characteristics were rated high as well
- When a soldier's characteristic was rated low, other characteristics were also rated low.

Thorndike concluded that the overall impression of the soldier created a halo effect on their perception of their other qualities. The impression, whether it is negative or positive, creates an altered judgement on each characteristic.

Example of The Halo Effect

A common example of the halo effect is pairing a person's physical qualities with personality traits. When a person thinks of a hero, they think of an attractive, clean, friendly person. When a person thinks of a villain, they think of an ugly, grumpy, mean person. The hero title puts a halo on the perception of a person, projecting all positive qualities. Similar with the villain title where it correlates all negative qualities.


  1. I really like how well you explained the Halo Effect and gave examples. This is such an interesting concept which shows how our minds work with judging people before truly knowing them. I find it crazy how people can assume that a person has many positive traits just by noticing one positive trait that they have. This definitely makes me much more nervous about making a good first impression on people!

  2. I agree with response above. Your examples are right on point. I try real hard not to "label" people based on their physical appearance. This isn't something that you can change over night. Society in a whole has a Halo Effect regarding labeling individuals. The halo effect allows us to make quick judgments, because we only have to consider one part of a person in order to "know" about all other aspects. I like to use the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover".

  3. I definitely think society has played a huge role in spreading this effect. This first thing your example reminded me of was the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I thought about how the witch who fed snow white the apple was ugly and mean, however the prince who saved her was attractive and cheerful. This is seen in almost every film these days, helping to circulate the Halo Effect.

  4. I agree that we subconsciously use this heuristic on an everyday basis. My mother has always told me to never judge someone based on their looks, but we seem to do so all the time.