Breaking Through Impressions & Looks: Halo Effect

Very popularly it is said, the first impression is the last impression. It’s not really true. But what is true is that the first impression is the lasting impression. A person you have a good impression of will sound like offering a reasonable idea all the time. This happens because once we are impressed; we put on an invisible halo of a certain reputation on that impressive person. And that one impression makes us build a blanket impression of the person. So, if you like the person as a whole you’d overrate the qualities they possess. This is the result of Halo effect.

This effect was discovered by Edward Thorndike, the father of educational psychology, in his paper The Constant Error in Psychological Ratings.As the name of the paper suggests clearly, the Halo Effect is our constant psychological error in rating people based on their qualities.

But reputation we attach onto somebody can be bad too. A person who disgusts you will disgust you in other circumstances too. And you will never know why but the ideas proposed by that person might never come to your liking. That because you started with hating that person. So you put on a halo of poor impression onto him/her.

First impressions matter significantly, and it decides which halo will you be wearing for a person, for a significant span of time. Breaking through previous impressions is very difficult. When you start on the right foot, say in an interview, your later shortcomings might still be neglected. But start on the wrong foot, and your plus points, later on, might still be questionable. So unfair. But, so Halo Effect.

Subjectivity of physical beauty

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so is said because once you’ve accepted somebody as a good person, or a person you’ve got a good impression of. You will score them higher on looks than you would have if they were a complete stranger to you. Imagine, an average looking person if approached you with a great personality. Magic! Your perception of the person’s looks improved considerably. Ever wondered why falling in love, makes your partner so much more attractive/adorable/beautiful to your eyes, than to a stranger’s eyes? Halo Effect.

You could look more attractive if what you carry is attractive. Looks are a factor, but do you know what a greater factor is? Presentability.

Presentation matters

Better appearances are evaluated as better performances. If your presentability can make you rank higher in somebody’s assessment of you, and generates favorable outcomes then why not? This is why the maintenance of corporate buildings, educational institutions, is very important. It must look better to cast a good halo and give an edge to the institution for attracting eyes and the good perception that comes associated with it. So is true for people.

Take on the Corporate world

The corporate world has a whole different aura to it. Money changing hands is the spirit. So practically anything that can influence the decision of shareholders and customers is of utmost importance. When you enter a company for investment purposes, quite literally, what do you see first? You see the building, lawn, the reception, and then you see how you were received and how long you had to wait. Though you are not actively looking for these factors, it affects you and your decision nonetheless.

In a business meeting, will you not build the image of the entire company based on the representative they send in? Professional grooming of self is hence, indispensable when you are looking forward to winning the trust of your company and your clients.

Face of politics

A political party wins an election fighting for agendas that are in line with you. It accomplishes one agenda and you declare it the hero. A ‘hero’ with a halo instead of a cape. The party accomplishes 2 more milestones which never were part of its agendas. None that you knew of. What then? The party will promote the new step as reasonable, if not epic. What will you do? You’ll believe in them because of the halo you have gifted them. The party might mess up disastrously some situations, but who cares as long as they did their first thing right. Even if they fail in the execution of major tasks: Oh, their intentions were right!

The cycle continues. A long time before we understand and breakthrough our previous perceptions of the political party.


There is nothing exceptionally right about the people we declare our favorite, nothing exceptionally wrong about the people who don’t make it to our list. View them good once, and we view them good always. Shortcomings? None that matters significantly. Favorites.

What looks good, sells! What has a better forefront, sells!

From world-class institutions to daily products and to people.

To Sum Up: Branding

Also, if a product from a brand exceeded your expectations, your judgment of the entire brand and all of its product lines improved considerably. That is the Halo effect.

Your favorite brand made a disaster. But aww! It is your favorite brand, so you’ll wait until it releases a statement. You’d be willing to believe their reasons too. This is why brand image plays a vital role during a crisis. This is how far your halo effect goes into affecting you.

Do not be fooled by your own perceptions. Share this article with your friends and family.

Thank You For Reading!