Why do we judge based on appearance? It’s about the “halo effect.” You give in to it more often than you think

Why do we judge based on appearance?  It's about the "halo effect."  You give in to it more often than you think

Even people who know various psychological mechanisms are not always able to “protect themselves” from the halo effect. We succumb to it universally. So what is this phenomenon and how does it affect people?

It has probably happened to each of us (and more than once) that when we saw someone for the first time, we judged them solely based on their appearance. Have you ever wondered why this happens and why we attribute certain characteristics to people even though we don’t know them? Our brain is responsible for this, and it is subject to certain cognitive errors. In short: it’s about the halo effect, also called the halo effect. We explain below what exactly it is and where this phenomenon comes from.

What is the halo effect?

The halo effect, a concept in psychology, involves assigning positive or negative characteristics based on first impressions (by assessing, for example, appearance or voice). How does it work in practice? We may think of an obese person as lazy. In turn, we will usually attribute these good character traits to a pretty person, thinking that he or she has a good heart and is certainly wise. We are more likely to consider ugly people as bad. Forming an opinion about someone based on first impressions happens automatically in our psyche. This phenomenon occurs in private and professional life – regardless of whether it is a date or a job interview.

It can have a halo effect both positive and negative nature. Positive occurs when, based on one given feature, we attribute many other positive features to someone. Conversely, exaggerating negative traits based on first impressions (and some specific feature) is referred to as the inverted halo effect. Both phenomena have a major impact on our judgments and behaviors. That’s why it is said that the first impression is so important. This action results from the cognitive economy of our brain. He tends to rely on general impressions because then he can quickly assess the situation and make a decision. However, this can lead to errors. The halo phenomenon in psychology has been known for years. Edward Thorndike, a behavioral psychologist, is considered its discoverer.

How to avoid the halo effect? Tips

First of all, once you know about its existence, it will be easier for you to avoid the “tricks” of your brain. This way you will be able to influence your judgments. It is also worth analyzing your own assessments, attitudes, and decision-making mechanisms. It is also important to develop critical thinking skills. Remember that you can always fall victim to a false impression. Fighting this phenomenon, however, is an attempt to avoid prejudices that result from cognitive error. It forces people to attribute a number of other features to a given person based on one positive or negative feature.

Therefore, the key in all this is mindfulness, as well as self-reflection and concentration on actually obtaining information about a given person. Finally: always keep in mind that no person is made up of just one trait – it is a series of traits and factors that may also depend on the situation. Check what questions are worth asking to get to know someone better. In turn, to get along with people, the key may be to know the color of their personality.

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