How the ‘Halo Effect’ operates in the real world — conflict with the ‘true self’ – Daily Times

The term, from its very appearance, looks fancy and fascinating, and grabs attention towards it. Also, the first thing that crops up in one’s mind is, what does it mean? A halo denotes “a circle of light shown around or above the head of a saint or holy person to represent their holiness”. The observer, due to the presence of a certain quality or qualities in another person, adds light on the entire persona of the latter, and maybe even exaggerates the other’s attributes: this is the halo effect, a sort of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we conclude the way feel and think about him. In more simple words, we, on the basis of a particular characteristic, overall, conclude whether a person is good, bad, likeable, unlikeable etc.

The phenomenon applies to celebrities, in reality, on the basis of their outlook. Brands sell their products and secure a market share due to the endorsement of celebrities. While, in job interviews, applicants also present the most favourable picture of themselves, and use the halo effect to their advantage. It also influences how students perceive teachers and how teachers perceive students

This is a pretty interesting and admirable topic, and I have had a keen interest in finding out whether this phenomenon exists or not. To test this concept, a total of 20 participants were recruited from the Bahria University, Karachi Campus and divided into two groups. Two different videotaped interviews were staged with the same individual, a teacher. In one of the interviews, the teacher was warm and friendly; in the other, cold and distant. The results were shocking, and shows the existence of the halo effect. The subjects who saw the warm instructor rated her appearance 80%, and mannerisms 90%, appealing. Whereas those who saw the cold instructor rated her appearance 70%, and mannerisms 80%, irritating.

How does the halo effect operate in the real world? The people of a society, which we are part of, generate their opinion on the basis of appearance. For instance, if a person is good looking, handsome, appealing, and beautiful etc., people will, on this basis, conclude that the person’s overall character is good. This is how the phenomenon applies to celebrities, in reality, on the basis of their outlook. Brands sell their products and secure a market share due to the endorsement of celebrities. While, in job interviews, applicants also present the most favourable picture of themselves, and use the halo effect to their advantage. It also influences how students perceive teachers and how teachers perceive students.

The halo effect presumes to be the most powerful, potentially harmful phenomenon because it clouds one’s judgment and makes him/her hold on to irrational judgments and beliefs. Youngsters get involved in relationships due to the appearance of a person or a certain quality which makes them believe that their potential mate is the most candid, sweetest, and honest person in the world. But their true colours, eventually, happen to show much later. Celebrities, in real life, are completely opposite to what they are presented to be in public. Sometimes, their true self gets revealed through their videos of misconduct and vulgarity. Politicians also have advantage of the same, to which they hold their voters accountable to. Local examples of such are how Imran khan and Bilawal Bhutto keep holding their voters in line, with their appearance and eye catching personality. Some people, though, might beg to differ.

The writer is a student of BSc. Psychology and can be reached at maryammajeed150@gmail.com

Published in Daily Times, June 14th 2018.

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