In social psychology, our tendency to classify a person as good or bad in one category makes it more likely for us to gauge the person positively or negatively in other categories as well.
It may appear that we find it hard to isolate different categories. This tendency may also arise in order to avoid conflict, as making them good at one thing and bad at the other would create a disagreement on the general evaluation of the person.
The best example of the halo effect is a movie star. The charisma and charm of a movie star bleeds over into the judgment of their other personality traits like intelligence, friendliness and honesty. This is why many stars are rated highly for likeable even when we see evidence that says otherwise.
Similarly, politicians also take advantage of the halo effect to appear open and friendly, while giving noting away of their real intentions. People tend to believe that their strategies are good and their policies fair, because the person comes across as such. It’s really one of the least complicated psychological theories observed across society.
How it works
We would think that it should be easy to correct such gross errors in judgment with simple self-examination and pick up on our mistake. However, in the 1970s, famous social psychologist Richard Nisbett showed us that reality is contradictory.
For the purpose of research, students were asked to view videos of the same professor, with a strong accent. One group saw the professor patiently and warmly fielding student queries. The other group was shown videos where the professor answered the same questions coldly.
When students were asked to rate the professor it was no wonder that students who saw the ‘warm’ persona rated him as more attractive, well-mannered and even fund his accent appealing. This was the halo effect at work.
What is surprising is that students were unable to pinpoint the real reason they found the professor likeability. This is what you need to tap into in your daily life if you wish to succeed.
If you wish to capitalize on the halo effect, dress and act like the ideal example of the position you aspire to. People are more likely to view you in a positive light if they perceive you as the correct fit.