Halo effect happens when we draw a general impression about an someone based on a single characteristic. All else can be ignored because the the one bright, shining, beautiful personality trait. It comes from the cognitive need categorize things. Ever fell in love with someone based on one thing(or the idea of the person) and respectively came crashing down and noticed everything bad all at once? Well, that person's halo is losing its shine. The following study is a perfect demonstration:

Subjects were given a list of traits describing a person and were asked to evaluate based on the following list:

Intelligent, skillful, practical, industrious, and warm. This person was judged to be wise, humerous, popular and imaginative. The second list was this:

Skillful, practical, industrious, intelligent and cold.

With a simple change from warm to cold changed the perceptions completely. The person was considered calculating and unapproachable.

This is even more proof that first impressions are completely unreliable.

In sociology this is defined as a bias towards people who are physically attractive, have a nice smile, or whatever. It basically means that most folks (whether falsely or not) see outwardly attractive people as intrinsically good. Simplified, if a person seems nice then they must be nice.

This theory has come under criticism from some psychologists who view it as a natural extension of maternal/paternal bonds and not as a social phenomenon. While this is worthy of evaluation you have to wonder why the reverse often holds true. When people see someone who is in obvious distress whether they're dirty, having a public conversation with Satan, or whatnot they tend to avoid that person. This is presumably under the assumption that the person will only cause harm through association. This reaction is also addressed by psychology but under the umbrella of a defense mechanism of instinctively fearing strangers. There is some contradiction between those two theories but I'll leave that tangle for the early childhood development specialists to deal with.

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