I GUESS you’ve heard of the term “halo effect.” In Psychology, the “halo effect” is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about his or her character. (psychology.about.com)

The term was first used by psychologist Edward Thorndike in the 1920s. He studied how individuals would generally carry over their impressions from one trait to another, given the factors of physical appearance and leadership.

His research concluded that most of the time, people’s overall assessment of a person highly influences their evaluation of specific traits.

In everyday life, we take for granted how this “halo effect” sometimes controls how we decide on things.

Teachers, for example, may perceive obedient, quiet, or well-behaved students to be more intelligent and capable. Someone who gets multiple awards may be perceived as outstanding despite being hounded by moral and integrity issues.

Students may also perceive warm and friendly teachers as more competent.

At work, supervisors may fall into the trap of rating likeability as excellence. Without an accurate data measuring the capacity of a worker, certain traits like enthusiasm or cheerfulness may color the appraisal factors of diligence, responsibility, and creativity.

Investopedia clearly explains how the “halo effect” is apparent in the business world. “For example, a customer buys product C which is made by company X, not because of the attributes or benefits of the product, but because he or she had a favorable experience with product D - another product made by company X, the purchased item is said to be prospering because of the halo effect.”

A classic example of the “halo effect” is the relationship between the Mac notebooks and iPod. When the iPod was released, there was speculation in the market place that the sales of Apple's Mac laptops would increase, because of the success of the iPod. The belief was based on the halo effect, as customers who had a great experience with the iPod would buy a Mac computer simply because it is made by Apple Inc.”

How many times have we purchased something just because it was endorsed by a celebrity? We carry over the celebrity’s attractiveness to the product that may not have anything to do with the physical appearance of the endorser!

Come to think of it, does this superstar really do laundry by hand? What is he or she doing endorsing a detergent bar then?

Research is always the name of the game. One product may not yield the same quality as the other despite them being made by the same company. Look at the specific features. Browse the reviews. Find out its history. Survey and ask the experts. Take the time to evaluate.

After all, anything worthwhile takes time. Rushing things cheapen the value of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

So the next time you pick something up from the grocery, pause and think first: “Am I falling into the spell of the ‘halo effect’ or am I making an intelligent decision?”*