The Halo Effect

Klohie Kuehne


Psychologist Edward Thorndike first coined the term in a 1920 paper titled “The Constant Error in Psychological Ratings.”

Description of Study

Thorndike asked commanding officers in the military to evaluate a variety of qualities in their soldiers. These characteristics included such things as leadership, physical appearance, intelligence, loyalty, and dependability.

His goal was to determine how ratings of one quality bled over onto assessments of other characteristics.

He found that high ratings of a particular quality correlated to high ratings of other characteristics, while negative ratings of a specific quality also led to lower ratings of other characteristics. The correlations were too high and too even.

Results of Study

Cognitive bias where a person's overall impression of someone else influences how they feel and think about the others character. Ex. impression, “he is nice” traits, “he is also smart”

Steve Jobs

An example would be Steve Jobs. He is successful, wealthy, intelligent, well spoken, leader, etc. All of the ratings for Jobs would have high correlations in the different characteristic categories. All being positive.