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What Are Halo Effects?

The halo effect is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs when the perception of one trait is influenced by other traits. This pattern has been studied in 1920 by Edward L. Thorndike. Thorndike found high cross relationships between positive and negative traits among soldiers as ranked by their commanding officers. Every single individual seem to be perceived as roughly good or roughly bad, and details in traits are generally not considered.

Another study was conducted by Solomon Asch, who discovered that attractiveness is the central trait in which all other perceptions are based. This study shows that people presumed that all other traits of an attractive person are as equally attractive. The implicit personality theory by Harold Kelley supports this study, as it shows that the initial traits that people recognize in others influence their perception of traits later recognized due to set expectations. Attractive people are assumed to be more intelligent and more skilled than those with plain outward appearances. Another study by Karen Dion in 1972 supports this theory. Photographs are shown to people and are judged. The result gave the same pattern, where attractive people are assumed to have good personalities.

The reverse halo effect, on the other hand, is a personal bias that a single negative trait influences the perception of other traits as generally bad. The halo effect and reverse halo effect are perceptions generally seen in everyday life. However, the influence of these biases stretch out to business industries and even national economies. Marketing and advertising plays an important role in making sure that the halo effect is put into good use for their products.

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