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Halo effect: what is it and how to apply it to a business?

By | John Preston

The Halo Effect is a psychological phenomenon in which a person, based on a positive characteristic, attributes additional characteristics, skills or abilities to another person or thing. For example, when a person is good at one sport, it is assumed that they are also good at everything else.

Cognitive biases affect perception, memory, thought and judgment and encompass all prejudices and misjudgments that occur systematically and have been reliably demonstrated in studies. The halo effect, which is also known as the halo effect, describes what happens when the first impression of a person or thing is so positive that this image does not match, or barely matches, reality.

What is the Halo Effect?

We can describe the halo effect as that psychological phenomenon that occurs when a person associates a positive characteristic of another person or thing with all the other possible characteristics that it may have. For example, if a person is tall and attractive, we are more likely to see them as smart, kind, and trustworthy.

Why does this effect occur?

This effect occurs because we are human beings and have a propensity to make things easy. The brain tends to look for a way to simplify information in order to process it better. This means that if a person has one positive characteristic, the brain assumes that all other characteristics of that person are also positive.

So, it is easier and faster to associate a feature with everything else than to analyze each feature individually. This can be beneficial in some situations, for example, when we meet someone for the first time and don’t know much about them. However, the halo effect can also be detrimental, as it prevents us from seeing things objectively.

What consequences can the halo effect have?

The Halo effect is very common and can have a significant impact on our daily lives. It can affect the way we see other people, especially if we base it on a positive or negative characteristic. It can also affect the way we see ourselves. For example, if we have a positive characteristic, we can assume that we are good at everything. While, if we have a negative characteristic, we can come to think that we are bad at everything.

In other words, the halo effect can have both positive and negative consequences, as it can lead to recognition and injustice. Since, we are always going to treat people according to the image that we have created of them.

Tips to avoid the “Halo Effect”

There are a few ways to avoid the Halo effect. The most important thing is to try to be objective and not to simplify things. If we know someone, let’s try to analyze all of their characteristics individually instead of associating them with just one thing. It’s also important not to assume that a positive trait means we’re good at everything. Sometimes a positive trait can be the result of specific effort or luck. In the same way, a negative characteristic does not mean that we are bad at everything.

To avoid the halo effect, it is recommended to:

  • Avoid as much as possible, oversimplifying the information. We must try to see people and situations as they are, in all their complexity.
  • Beware of prejudices. Often, we have positive or negative prejudices about certain people or situations. These can distort our perception and make us see things incorrectly.
  • Don’t assume. If a person has a positive feature, it is possible that this is due to a particularly difficult test that he has passed. We should not assume that this person is positive in all aspects of his life.

The halo effect in marketing: a great opportunity

In marketing, making an impression on potential customers is often played on one card. Therefore, it makes sense to use the knowledge of the halo effect in order to use this unique opportunity in the best way. The concept can be applied to both in-person and indirect selling, through websites, advertisements, or other means of advertising.

Due to the power of the halo effect, selecting a single positive personality trait is often enough to put a person or a product on their best face. The effect gives the person or product a kind of halo. Therefore, the choice of that characteristic must be made very tactfully to achieve the desired effect.

In personal contact, specifically in B2B sales and B2B marketing, it may even be a good idea to work towards the specific “halo” of each potential or regular customer, in order to give each of them an optimal first impression. In the subsequent development of the negotiations, which in any case can be confrontational, this first good impression lived for a long time. Also in digital marketing and online commerce, the strength of irradiation and success of a product can be taken advantage of to improve the perception of the rest of the range and sell it better. In this context, experts talk about the brand halo effect.


Let’s look at some common examples of the halo effect in our lives:

  • When a person is kind and likable, we are more likely to see them as smart, confident, and trustworthy.
  • Also, when a person has a negative characteristic, like being lazy, we assume that they are also messy, irresponsible, and immature.
  • If a child is good at math, it is assumed that he is also good at other subjects.
  • When a person is good at one activity, there is a tendency to assume that they are also good at everything else.
  • If a person is good at work, it is assumed that they are also good in personal life.


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