halo effect

Halo Effect – Helping You Make Poor Judgements

By Anupum Pant

Despite being well aware of the adage – “Don’t judge a book by its cover” – our not-so-smart-brains fail us on this every time. Unknowingly, humans are prone to the Halo effect. And they’ll even deny that this harmless looking effect was what led them to make a wrong judgement about someone or something.

Halo Effect: In simple terms, we create a whole fake image about anything in our minds, based on a single trait.  For instance:

  1. Don’t you thing Steve Jobs must have been a perfect human being in person? I’m not saying he wasn’t, may be he was. Assuming you never met him, what made you construct that image of his, in your mind? Probably his warm, friendly presentations. Or it is even possible that the seemingly flawless physical designs of Apple products did that trick. Often marketers use this effect to create a warm image of themselves in the audience’s mind by saying little of any substance.
  2. By the good looks of this website, which I’ve made sure are really good, you’d unknowingly judge it as a page presenting you with quality content. You might do this without even looking at the content. May be it really is good content in this case, but it isn’t always.
  3. A well known brand that releases good commercials is often believed to be a quality brand. You’d feel no pain in shelling out thousands of bucks for a simple pair of shoes, saying it is a good quality shoe and will last long. There is a chance that you’ve never really looked deeper into the quality of the shoes this company makes. You’ll simply trust them because of the world-class commercials they come out with – which of course are only a result of outsourcing of creative work to a professional company. Which is not to say that the company really does make poor quality shoes. May be it doesn’t. But you just made a snap judgement without enough information.

The name Halo effect:
Its called the Halo effect because of this general tendency among us to make a snap judgement about the overall good traits of a person by just looking at a halo painted on top of their heads (one good trait of their’s).

But here is the catch, it works both ways:

Suppose you dislike one thing about something, you’ll build an image of “bad” around it, in your mind. This has been tested widely and it is true. People unknowingly do it and don’t realize why they did it. Moreover they’ll deny that it affects them.

Suppose you go to a restaurant and see that there is nothing fancy inside – naked tables, poorly dressed waiters and shabby flooring – you’ll never expect tasty food coming out of its kitchen.

Same thing happens with poorly designed websites. The content isn’t considered credible if they don’t look good. That is one reason, I take time to muster up good-looking images for my featured section.

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