The Halo Effect

The Halo Effect

This sounds obvious enough. The overall impression of a person effects the observer's feelings and thoughts about that person's character. Attractive individuals are regularly rated high in qualities such as creativity, intelligence, and sensitivity, while unattractive individuals are rated low. In psychology, this cognitive bias is known as the Halo Effect.

You know nothing about the person in the photograph (nor do I). The questions is, did you form any opinion about her? Why? In a study done a few years ago, it was found that we rate and elect politicians based on their attractiveness - and they know this. Irrespective of the facts that they present, attractive politicians are perceived to be more knowledgeable. Similarly, it was found that jurors are less likely to convict attractive individuals, and convicted individuals who were attractive got lesser sentences.

What the Halo Effect and similar studies leave out is whether we are socially conditioned for such cognitive biases, or whether we are born with them. What do you think?
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