The Halo Effect

Have you ever seen a CEO of a huge cooperation walking in to a business meeting in shorts and sneakers? Probably not. Throughout many industries of the world certain job positions come with a specific look. Which means the person that holds one of these positions is expected to dress and appear in a certain way. People’s perceptions of others can be greatly affected by the halo effect and the bias of attractive people as demonstrated by the article “Physical Attractiveness Bias In Hiring: What is beautiful good” by Comila Shahani-Denning and the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada.
The halo effect in basic terms is attributing many positive qualities because of one or few good qualities notice in the person. such as a thin, attractive women may be perceived by other to be neat, well organized, and nice. Even though she doesn’t actually show any evidence of any of those qualities. In the film The Devil Wears Prada, The Runway magazine publishing company has set a high standard of presentation for its employees. All of it’s employee basically fit the same description, size 2, attractive and wearing the latest fashion.
Then a average looking young women named Andy walks in wearing an outfit that looked like she stole it from her great grandmother closet to apply to be the assistant’s assistant to the head of the company, the assistant Emily begin judging her the second she enters the office. She obviously doesn’t fit in and is quickly overlooked for the position by the assistant. This is closely related to the idea’s in Comila Shahani-Denning article of beauty is good.

The beauty is good theory states that attractiveness has a significant impact on a person being hired, so the more attractive candidate has a better chance in being hired then the less attractive person. Which can be seen as a type of discrimination because you it’s a non-work related factor. Attribution also plays a huge role in this situation. Attribution is the way we find meaning to other peoples actions. There are two different types of attribution, negative attribution and positive both of which can come from two different sources, an internal or external motive.
By Andy not dressing the part she’s sending a message to other that she just doesn’t care. This is an example of an internal attribution. The fact that it’s a fashion magazine and she seems to know little or nothing about it doesn’t really help her. On the other hand when the main reason the company head Miranda hires her is because she wasn’t like the rest who didn’t work out. One factor of this film that I found very interesting was the way Miranda was portrayed. Majority of the film, she shown as this cold hearted monster everyone fears.
Andy’s perception of her is very negative and this is an example of the reverse halo affect. The reverse halo affect is taking one negative quality and attributing many more without any obvious indications. Just by seeing how strict Miranda is at work, andy make her seem like she has no care or compassion for anyone else but a good thing they did in the film was show her vulnerable side when she was getting divorce from her husband. She let her feeling show demonstrating she’s not the heartless beast they portray her as. As human being we all try to find meaning and reasoning to everything.
That what set us apart from other animal, the need to know why. But what happens when our judgments of other are based on assumptions rather than facts. We begin to form false views of people and even form stereotypes of people. One stereotype I’ve heard many times is that overweight people are unorganized and just messy. Which is hard for me to understand what one has to do with the other, I’m nowhere near the 121 lbs I’m supposed to be for my age and height but that doesn’t mean I’m a slob, it just means I like food. How shallow have we become that we judge people based on physical characteristics.
In addition to the beauty is good theory, Comila Shahani-Denning also explore the far less common beauty is beast theory. Beauty is beast theory basically states that attractive females are considered to feminine for a traditionally male role and are less likely to be hired then a less attractive female. I have seen this my entire life, my mother has always been the only female at most her jobs, not because she unattractive but because she normally wears very loose fitting clothes and never wears make-up so she give off a rougher look then a women who wears , making her seem suitable for more masculine positions.
The Comila Shahani-Denning article also shows a study between an individualist culture the United States and an collectivist culture India in order to see if the trend is similar throughout different cultures. The students were required to look at an application with a photo attached for a job position. The result were similar in both situations, but this may be due to the fact the students were only shown one application when in real life a employer would have a variety of different applicants. So now there working on fixing this flaw in the study and retest the hypothesis.
I believe that when the study is repeated we will see a greater bias in hiring in an individualist culture do to the fact that the employee of a given company are representative of the company and many people fall for the beauty is good theory. The better the people look the better the company seems. For example if I visit two bakeries, one in which there are overweight women wearing street clothes and another with a thin attractive women wearing a proper uniform. I’m more likely to rate the bakery with uniform to be better regardless of the taste of the food.
So in a way this also relates to the halo effect, I seen one positive quality and attributed it to be all around better. As we’ve seen the halo effect and attribution are very closely related. The qualities which we notice in a person can let develop many other ideas about a person, which can make assumptions which can lead us into making wrong decisions based on these assumption for example dating a person just because of their physical attraction, you may find yourself dating a complete airhead or psycho. My point is when you assume you make an a$$ of yourself.

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