What is the Halo Effect?

The Halo Effect is the positive bias that a person (or entity) generates due to the good impression they have made in the past.

 

Although this phenomenon can be considered to be desirable if you are the person with the “Halo”, it can be very harmful if you are the affected one (the person who has a positive bias towards somebody).

 

* For example: Your brother-in-law (a smart guy that speaks 5 languages) recommends that you buy a certain car, and you do it because… Well, he is your  intelligent brother-in-law.

  • The problem is: He really doesn’t know more about cars than you do.

 

Our experience in Business tells us that, letting someone dazzle you can end up being very expensive.

The Horn and Reverse Halo effects

There are 3 main forms of Halo Effect:

 

The classic Halo Effect: Positive Bias towards someone.

  • For example: A person who gives alms to the poor is assumed to be a good person.
    • And maybe, he is a corrupt politician.

 

The Reverse Halo Effect: It happens when the positive Bias towards somebody generates suspicion.

  • For example: A well-dressed person will be perceived as wealthy… And therefore greedy.
    • And perhaps, he is the most generous person in the world.
      • Think about Bill Gates: Why are there people who are always suspicious of him?

 

The Horn Effect: It occurs when a negative Bias towards someone overshadows his virtues.

  • For example: A person with a different political position than yours.
    • If you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean that you can’t help each other.

 

Let’s see our first example:

Halo Effect example

 

Imagine that you have a very good friend.

  • A schoolmate who always obtained very good grades.

 

You practically agree on everything with this friend:

  • Politics.
  • Sports.
  • Economics.
  • etc.

And you have always considered him a brilliant person.

  • Even if your lives have been very similar.

 

One day, your friend tells you:

  • “We should start our own Restaurant”.

 

You get surprised because he has no idea how a Restaurant works.

  • Also, his idea doesn’t seem very interesting to you.

 

However, you think:

  • This guy is very intelligent: He will surely make it, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity“.

 

In the end, you quit your Job and decide to follow him.

You can’t imagine how many times we’ve seen this story.

People who join or finance a Business because they have “faith” in another person … and they lose everything.

 

That’s why we wanted to warn you of the Halo effect.

Why is the Halo Effect important?

We consider the Halo Effect to be negative to everybody.

Why?

 

If you have a Bad Idea: You want other people to make you open your eyes.

  • Else, you can end up in a very bad situation.

 

If you have a Good Idea: Sooner or later people will realize.

  • And if they don’t realize… Maybe it is not such a good idea.

 

No matter if you are the one with the Halo or the affected by someone’s Halo:

  • You must make decisions based on how good an Idea or a Skill is.

As you may already know, we have experience in Business.

Trust us:

  • Being dazzled by someone or constantly dazzling others is never good.

 

Let’s see some examples:

Halo Effect examples

Next, we will discuss different common situations in which the Halo effect plays a very important role.

  • In addition, we’ll give you advice on how you should handle these situations.

 

Let’s begin:

The Charismatic Coworker - Halo Effect example

 

This is a very common situation:

  • You have a Coworker that everybody loves: He is funny, intelligent, remembers your birthday…

 

However, he tends to use his charisma to get away from his tasks.

 

You have been helping him out more than you should lately, but you ‘ve had enough.

 

How should you handle this situation?

 

In this situations, we recommend being direct.

 

Sometimes these type of people use others and don’t even realize what they are doing.

  • And other times they do, unfortunately.

 

And, if no one tells him (or her) anything, you can end up being his “slave”.

  • You surely have seen this situation… When you were in school.

 

Don’t beat around the bush: Tell him that you can’t help him anymore.

  • Either he realizes and apologizes, or you better end that friendship.

The Angry Boss - Horn Effect example

 

This is another very common situation: You have a Boss that you hate.

  • He is always shouting.
  • He is always angry at everybody.
  • etc.

 

However, you are having a bit of trouble with one of your Suppliers and you don’t know what to do.

  • Should you ask him for help?

 

You don’t want to do it  because you consider him not to have good Interpersonal Skills.

 

What should you do?

 

You  should ask him for help.

Just because he’s a rude person doesn’t mean he doesn’t know more than you do about how to handle this situation.

 

Some of the smartest people we’ve met in Business were rude, greedy, stingy… But they knew a lot.

  • Why not take advantage of it?

 

Don’t assume somebody isn’t smart just because you don’t like him:

  • Try to obtain information from everybody, no matter their personality.

The Handsome employee - Reverse Halo Effect example

 

Now, you are the Boss.

You are creating a task force for a particular project and everyone is recommending that you include Paul.

 

However, you’ve always thought of Paul as a pretentious guy.

  • Although you have never worked with him.

 

What should you do?

 

Talk to him.

  • Sit back and don’t let your prejudices decide.

 

Sometimes we can all feel “threatened” by other people who are:

  • More handsome.
  • More intelligent.
  • etc.

… Than we are.

 

It’s difficult to work with someone who gets all the attention.

But, again, you have to judge people by their skills and knowledge, not their appearance.

Summarizing

The Halo Effect is the positive bias that a person generates due to the good impression they have made in the past.

 

There are 3 main forms of Halo Effect:

  • The classic Halo Effect: Positive Bias towards someone.
  • The Reverse Halo Effect: It happens when the positive Bias towards somebody generates suspicion.
  • The Horn Effect: It occurs when a negative Bias towards someone overshadows his virtues.

 

Although this phenomenon is considered to be desirable if you are the person with the “Halo”, it can be very harmful if you are the affected one.

 

Remember: No matter if you are the one with the Halo or the affected by someone’s Halo:

  • You must make decisions based on how good an Idea or a Skill is, and forget your pre-existing biases

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