The Halo Effect

sun with halloThe Halo effect was first documented by the US psychologist Frederick Lyman Wells in a study of ratings of the literary merit of authors. The study was published in the Archives of Psychology in 1907. It is a form of cognitive bias in which a person, brand, or thing evaluated to possess one desirable or positive trait is consequently evaluated to possess many other desirable or positive traits. In person perception, it is a generalization from the perception of one prominent attribute to an impression of the personality as a whole, leading to inflated correlations between rated characteristics. In other words when a person or object is perceived to be good in one aspect, we generally perceive him/her to be good in other areas as well. The term is occasionally limited to occasions in which it leads to an overvaluation of the personality as a whole. In simple terms, your general perception of an individual as “He/She is good!” influences your perception of that person’s particular traits (“He/She is intelligent also!”). The term ‘halo error’ was introduced in 1920 by the US psychologist Edward Thorndike.