>The Halo Effect

Conflict with colleagues, consultants, other staff? Tried to adopt the Halo effect?

Priming and modelling might improve your difficult interactions…

In his book, “The Halo Effect,” Phil Rosenzweig described the Staw study like this, “…it’s hard to know in objective terms exactly what constitutes good communication or optimal cohesion…so people tend to make attributions based on other data that they believe are reliable.” That’s how the halo effect works – things like communication skills are weird, nebulous, abstract, and nuanced concepts that don’t translate well into quantifiable, concrete, and measurable aspects of reality. When you make a judgment under uncertainty your brain uses a heuristic and then covers up the evidence so that you never notice that you had no idea what you were doing.

Research into the halo effect suggests this sort of thing happens all the time. In one study a professor had a thick, Belgian accent. If that professor pretended to be mean and strict, American students said his accent was grating and horrendous. If he pretended to be nice and laid-back, similar students said his accent was beautiful and pleasant. In another study scientists wrote an essay and attached one of two photos to it, pretending that the photos were of the person who wrote the work. If the photo was of an attractive woman, people tended to rate the essay as being well-written and deep. If the photo was that of (according to the scientists) an unattractive woman, the essay received poorer scores and people tended to rate as being less insightful. In studies where teachers were told that a student had a learning disability they rated that student’s performance as weaker than did other teachers who were told nothing at all about the student before the assessment began. In each example, people didn’t realize they were using a small, chewable bite of reality to make assumptions about a smorgasbord they couldn’t fully digest.


So maybe modelling a positive outlook will lead to others responding in kind…???