The halo effect is when our general impression of a person is clouded by a bias of our own judgment calls of that certain person’s qualities or characteristics. Many people have put time into researching the halo effect which seems to consistently show that if someone’s qualities that are pleasing to the senses such as: physical appearance, materialistic qualities, and overall attractiveness will unwillingly affect how we perceive or end up judging their character. The more beautiful they appear and the more proper they act, the better person we will unknowingly deem them to be. We unconsciously give these personality traits and features to numerous persons that we have never taken the time to get to know. Yet why is that? We have never met you, talked to you, or even been in the same area as you. This occurrence happens unconsciously. We seem to be unaware of the bias we establish through just simply looking because our judgement is clouded by a person’s attractiveness and appearance.
Although, I doubted this information due to the hope that we as a society would be more willing to not place labels based upon the appearance. This led us to conduct an experiment that “If the appearance is the only change made to a human then your own perception of that person will change.” This was our hypothesis that we tested. We are wanting to see how a person will react and describe someone based solely on appearance.
In the Nisbett and Wilson experiment they used what is called the halo effect. The halo effect is the theory that when you look at someone’s overall appearance, your perception of them changes due to their physical appearance. Say the human has nice clothes and is wearing a smile, your perception of them would probably be that they are friendly and safe, while someone wearing dirty clothes would be labeled as gross or unsafe. In the Nisbett and Wilson experiment they use this theory by having participants make a judgement about lecturers, they told the students that they were investigating teacher evaluations. The students were split into two groups for this experiment, in each group the students watched the two different videos of the same lecturer. The instructor was a native french speaking belgium, he spoke english but had a noticeable accent.
In the first video the instructor presented himself as likeable and respectful to his students, he acted flexible about his teachings and enthusiastic about the subject. In the second video the same instructor presented himself in a much different way, he was unlikeable, cold, distrustful of his students and he presented a ridged teaching style. After watching both videos the students were asked to rate the instructor on his appearance, accent and mannerism.
Also the accent and mannerism were kept the same in both videos. The students were then asked how much they liked the instructor on an 8 point scale from “like extremely” to “dislike extremely.” After looking at how the students answered the questions it was obvious that the students were unaware of the halo effect. The students were convinced that how they rated the lecture had nothing to do with how likeable he was even though they had judged each video according to how they looked and acted.
This proves that halo effect is so embedded into society and that people don’t even recognize they are doing it. Another experiment that involves the halo effect uses two women, Ruth and Rebecca, one is more plain and the other is classically pretty. Both girls pretend to struggle up stairs with heavy bags to see which lady people are more likely to help. For Ruth, the plain looking lady, it takes 45 seconds to have someone finally help her with her bags, and the people who assisted here were also females. We watched many men walk by notice her struggling and kept walking like they didn’t seem to care.
On the other hand, the classically pretty lady, Rebecca, it only took 8 seconds for a man to recognize her struggling and help her with her bags. Also then Rebecca asked for money to go and purchase a drink and the second she did the man pulled out his wallet and gave her a five dollar bill. This is just another very common example of how your appearance really does affect the way people perceive you. After reviewing these experiments we decided that we would conduct an experiment on the way 17 year olds perceive a man in a suit and a man in baggier clothes to test the halo effect.
“If the appearance is the only change made to a human then your own perception of that person will change.” This is the hypothesis that we wanted to test. We took two images of the same exact man in two separate outfits. There was a survey conducted to see if the appearance of the man would change your thought process of where he worked and the amount of money he made per year. We chose to maintain two testing groups.
The fist testing group was a group of fifteen seventeen year old girls. The second test group was a group of fifteen seventeen year old boys. Any person was allowed to use all the time they deemed necessary to complete the survey papers. Both girls and boys group of thirty were all first given a survey of a man dressed in black sweats, a grey shirt, brown sneakers, and black sunglasses. They were asked to guess this man’s occupation, salary, and describe why they chose the answers they wrote down. For example did it have to do with appearance, clothes, hair color, height, or weight.
If on any of the questions a test subject could not compose an answer they were asked to mark that question with an “X” declaring I don’t know. Then both groups were given a second survey that was the exact same. It included the same questions and pictured the same man.
Although, this time that man was dressed in a black suit, red tie, and black dress shoes. The purpose was to see how one would stereotype a person based on appearance. Also, another goal was to see if one gender was more stereotypical that the other. This is why there were even numbers of boys and girls.