Halo Effect

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It is a cognitive bias that leads people to take one positive trait or characteristic as applicable in other areas as well.

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The idea, ‘First impressions are the last impressions’ is the hallmark of Halo Effect. It is a psychological and social phenomenon that causes people to transfer their perceptions about one attribute to other related by different attributes. It was first developed by a psychologist Edward Thorndike in the year 1920. It was part of Thorndike’s research that attempted to study how one positive or negative characteristic would drag an individual’s understanding of all other traits. The research concluded that the effect works both positively and negatively.

Today, researchers have shown that the Halo Effect is not just limited to individuals. Halo Effect is also applicable to businesses, websites, products, organizations, etc. An example of the Halo Effect in businesses would be through celebrity brand endorse- ments and creating iconic advertisements. For websites and online platforms, it might be a feature that we like or the aesthetics of the website. In case of individuals, it might be based on inter-personal relations or particular characteristics.

To avoid falling prey to the Halo Effect, it is important to build our capabilities of identifying cases of Halo Effect. We can do this by
(a) being thoughtful in building our initial perception;
(b) recognizing why we prioritize certain characteristics, fea- tures or endorsements over others; and
(c) always considering the alternative.
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