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The Halo and Devil Effect: How Our Unconscious Mind Can Affect Our Judgements Abstract The Halo and Devil effect proposed by Thorndike (1920) states that when individuals identify one positive trait they will generalise it to a range of other unrelated positive traits, likewise, when a negative trait is identified it will be generalised to a range of unrelated negative traits. This study aims to research into the phenomena with the hypothesis "As participants see a more attractive person, their ratings for that persons' popularity, intelligence and success will go up, despite these being unrelated characteristics." To carry out this research a repeated measures design was used where participants were are asked to rate four people from their photos on a four qualities (attractiveness, popularity, intelligence and success). The results show weak support for the Halo and Devil effect as the only significant difference was between perceived success for males and perceived popularity for females. This study concluded that the Halo and Devil effect exists but further research needs to be carried out to examine the extent of it. Introduction Thorndike (1920) claimed that when individuals identified one positive trait of an individual they would generalise it to other, unrelated traits of the individual, for example, if a person found an individual attractive, they would automatically assume other positive traits of this person such as intelligence and popularity even though these traits are unrelated and have little bearing on each other (the Halo effect).
This enables the researchers to gain a large sample with relative ease and enables the selection of participants from around the United Kingdom whilst restricting it to students to form a generalisable random sample of students. Materials Pictures will be collected from the website www.myspace.com to ensure participants do not identify with other characteristics of the person in the picture; if a celebrity is used then participants may be affected by the Halo and Devil effects for different attributes, for example, if a picture of Dylan Moran is used then participants may not find him attractive but may rate this high due to the fact that they find him funny (the Halo effect). This would add a bias to any data collected and make it difficult to generalise from this. The questionnaire will contain four Likehert scales numbered 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) and asked to rate the person they see in terms of intelligence, success, attractiveness and popularity. Procedure Thirty-eight participants will be e-mailed the link to a questionnaire and asked to complete it. The questionnaire will contain four pages, each page will contain the image of one person with four Likhert scales below the image, participants will be asked to rate these people between 1 and 5 in terms of their intelligence, success, attractiveness and popularity (in that order). The four images will be one attractive male, one unattractive male, one attractive female and one unattractive female.
Deviation 0.766 0.732 0.926 0.777 0.858 0.786 0.835 0.649 Fig3. Bar Chart showing the rating of each question for males Fig4. Bar Chart showing the rating of each question for females Discussion The results of this experiment show very little support for the Halo and Devil effect; the majority of the variables have error bars that overlap significantly, however, there is a significant difference in the success ratings for males, and the popularity ratings for females, this can lead to an acceptance of the directional hypothesis ("As participants see a more attractive person, their ratings for that persons' popularity, intelligence and success will go up, despite these being unrelated characteristics."). This research can be applied in everyday life in terms of advertising, if a well known celebrity sponsors a particular brand then people may become attracted towards that brand merely because of the positive traits of the sponsor, rather then the actual quality of the brand. However, more research is needed to clarify that the Halo and Devil effect exist; this research demonstrated very weak support that could lead to a false conclusion; despite the acceptance of the hypothesis there was still no significant difference between two of the three traits, furthermore, the intelligence rating for the less attractive male went up, this implies severe questions to whether the conclusions of this study can be supported. Furthermore, an unreliable sampling method was used, opportunity sampling, whilst easy for a researcher, will not always yield a representative sample making the sample lack generalisibility.
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