Halo Effect – This is why beautiful people seem more talented and sustainable brands more professional

26.04.2016 Daniel Kostyra

The Halo Effect is often translated as an outshining effect and falls into the category of cognitive mistakes in evaluations. A person’s (very striking) positive characteristic, for instance, can affect the perception of other, still unknown, character traits. A suitable example for illustration purposes is the treat to a drink in a bar from a stranger. In this scenario the courteous gesture, which is interpreted as politeness or generosity, can outshine other characteristic traits of the stranger. The person will for instance be perceived as more trust-worthy, extroverted, or even more intelligent than he really is. Subconsciously a connection is made between desired characteristics, which is only based on the observation of one or very few character traits. This effect has been scientifically proven numerous times, among others during the evaluation of academic essays where especially attractive authors achieved better results.[1]

 

The Halo Effect can obviously have negative consequences as well. Ask yourself: Who do you, spontaneously, consider as more competent? A service employee, who speaks perfect, dialect-free English or a service employee, who has a strong local accent? But does it make sense to judge other abilities that primarily have to do with the service on this fact?

The Halo Effect teaches us, that the judgement of certain characteristics (sometimes) depends on how other character traits are perceived. For brands this is an important piece of information. Instead of dividing the limited budget into different areas and ultimately not convincing in any of them, brands should concentrate their efforts. It is better to initially develop and advertise an excellent product line, instead of many mediocre ones. Rather be known and appreciated for few values (e.g. sustainability) than for a hodgepodge of attributes that hardly a client can remember (e.g. sportsmanship, professionalism, sustainability, credibility, etc.). Because once a positive characteristic is embedded in the brain (e.g. sustainability), it can automatically spread over to others (e.g. professionalism).

And when in doubt: Treat your client to a drink. 

 

[1] Landy, David & Harold Sigall (1974), "Beauty is Talent: Task Evaluation as a Function of the Performer's Physical Attractiveness", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29 (3)