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The Halo Effect: Distorting our view of othersScience project video

Abstract

The Halo effect is a theory that describes how a single attribute of a person can affect how we perceive others. An example would be voice quality. If someone has a pleasant sounding voice, the person may be perceived to be more attractive by others based on this single attribute. The Halo effect is situational. If you perform a task at a high level, this may lead to others having expectations of you to repeat this level of performance in the future. Conversely, if you underperform on a task, others may expect similar levels of performance in areas unrelated to the task (Example: Your do not do well at school so you are perceived to be a low performer in another area of your life). In marketing, the Halo effect explains why customers are sometimes biased towards certain products, simply due to a prior favorable experience with other products made by the same manufacturer. In this science fair project, you will videotape three people. In the first video, each person will talk about himself/herself or an experience he or she had. During the taping, the participants will present themselves in a natural and favorable way. In the second video, the three participants will repeat the same speech but make adjustments to some aspect of themselves, such as voice quality, posture, or facial expression. Subjects will view the first video and rate the person?s level of "likability". After viewing the first video, they will view the second video and give a second assessment on the person?s level of likability. Will the two videos be rated differently?

Objective

Demonstrate the Halo effect.

Scientific Terms

Halo effect

Background

Have you ever had a situation where you did something really well, or you had a particularly good day, only to have compliments or kudos turn into judgment or criticism in the days that followed. It may be due to fact that people prefer predictability and consistency. We seem to give special attention to others when they do something well, or when their performance fall short. The Halo Effect is a mental process that we use as a "short cut" to understand others. Rather than seeing another person as a complex and dynamic being, our brain takes a "mental snap shot" of others and uses it to formulate perceptions of them. If that "snapshot" depicts a person of high capability or desirability, then we may become disappointed if the person does not live up to that image. Conversely, if we form our impression of the person when he is not at his best, we may hold on to that impression even when his ability or performance improves in the future.

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