The PR BlogMedia & PsychologySocial PsychologyThe Halo Effect: Why Attractiveness Matters in PR

The Halo Effect: Why Attractiveness Matters in PR

The universal power of charisma.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

The Halo Effect is intriguing — and eth­ic­ally chal­len­ging in PR.

Have you ever con­sidered choos­ing a brand spokes­per­son based on their over­all good looks and charisma?

While it sounds shal­low, you wouldn’t be com­pletely wrong to be temp­ted to base your choice on such grounds, at least in some parts.

Here we go:

The Halo Effect: The Power of Charisma

In the world of pub­lic rela­tions, under­stand­ing and stra­tegic­ally using psy­cho­lo­gic­al phe­nom­ena can be the key to suc­cess­ful cam­paigns. One such phe­nomen­on, the Halo Effect, plays a ser­i­ous role in shap­ing pub­lic perception. 

The Halo Effect occurs when our over­all impres­sion of a per­son influ­ences our judg­ments of their spe­cif­ic traits. The effect extends bey­ond indi­vidu­al assess­ments and sig­ni­fic­antly impacts mar­ket­ing strategies where sin­gu­lar char­ac­ter­ist­ics often shape con­sumer per­cep­tions of advert­ise­ments and brands.

The halo effect occurs when a per­son’s over­all pos­it­ive traits influ­ence our eval­u­ations of indi­vidu­al attrib­utes, lead­ing to uncon­scious biases in judg­ments.”
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1Nisbett, R., & Wilson, T. (1977). The halo effect: Evidence for uncon­scious alter­a­tion of judg­ments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, … Continue read­ing

The Halo Effect and Spokesperson Selection

For PR pro­fes­sion­als, recog­nising the Halo Effect opens up a realm of oppor­tun­it­ies. This phe­nomen­on sug­gests that a pos­it­ive gen­er­al impres­sion can pro­duce favour­able eval­u­ations across vari­ous attributes. 

Halo effect in mar­ket­ing leads people to form an entire impres­sion based on indi­vidu­al char­ac­ter­ist­ics, influ­en­cing their per­cep­tion of advert­ise­ments, trade­marks, and pack­aging.”
Source: Commercial Research 2Hao, L. (2004). The Analysis of Halo Effect in Marketing. Commercial Research.

This is par­tic­u­larly rel­ev­ant in spokes­per­son selec­tion. Physically attract­ive indi­vidu­als tend to be rated more favour­ably regard­ing per­son­al­ity traits, a prin­ciple that can be applied in choos­ing brand ambas­sad­ors or pub­lic fig­ures rep­res­ent­ing a company. 

The halo effect, also known as the phys­ic­al attract­ive­ness ste­reo­type, refers to the habitu­al tend­ency of people to rate attract­ive indi­vidu­als more favor­ably for their per­son­al­ity traits or char­ac­ter­ist­ics than those who are less attract­ive.”
Source: Nursing Times 3Smith, R. (2009). Halo Effect. Nursing Times, 84 51, 68. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​7​/​978 – 0‑387 – 73003-5_487

The key is to cre­ate a strong, pos­it­ive first impres­sion that can col­our sub­sequent per­cep­tions, wheth­er it’s through aes­thet­ic­ally pleas­ing visu­als, enga­ging nar­rat­ives, or asso­ci­at­ing the brand with admired per­son­al­it­ies or values.

Over-Reliance on Positive Associations

While the Halo Effect can be a power­ful tool, it presents chal­lenges and eth­ic­al con­sid­er­a­tions. Over-reli­ance on pos­it­ive asso­ci­ations can lead to skewed pub­lic per­cep­tions, poten­tially glossing over flaws or issues that need addressing. 

The Halo Effect in lotto games shows how pos­it­ive events, such as large jack­pots, can tem­por­ar­ily boost tick­et sales, over­shad­ow­ing the less glam­or­ous aspects of gambling. Similarly, PR cam­paigns that heav­ily rely on the halo effect must be care­ful not to mis­lead or cre­ate unreal­ist­ic expectations.

The ‘Halo Effect’ in lotto games occurs when tick­et sales unex­pec­tedly increase after a large jack­pot, due to bet­tors exchan­ging prize win­nings for new tick­ets.”
Source: Applied Economics Letters 4Grote, K., & Matheson, V. (2007). Examining the ‘Halo Effect’ in lotto games. Applied Economics Letters, 14, 307 – 310. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​8​0​/​1​3​5​0​4​8​5​0​5​0​0​4​4​7​372.

The halo effect is a double-edged sword in pub­lic rela­tions. While it can be lever­aged to enhance brand image and cre­ate pos­it­ive asso­ci­ations, it requires care­ful hand­ling to avoid mis­lead­ing audi­ences.


Please sup­port my PR blog by shar­ing it with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: More Psychology

ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Nisbett, R., & Wilson, T. (1977). The halo effect: Evidence for uncon­scious alter­a­tion of judg­ments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 250 – 256. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​3​7​/​0​022 – 3514.35.4.250
2 Hao, L. (2004). The Analysis of Halo Effect in Marketing. Commercial Research.
3 Smith, R. (2009). Halo Effect. Nursing Times, 84 51, 68. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​7​/​978 – 0‑387 – 73003-5_487
4 Grote, K., & Matheson, V. (2007). Examining the ‘Halo Effect’ in lotto games. Applied Economics Letters, 14, 307 – 310. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​8​0​/​1​3​5​0​4​8​5​0​5​0​0​4​4​7​372.
Shareable:
The universal power of charisma.
Shareable:
The Halo Effect is intriguing — and ethically challenging in PR.
Shareable:
Have you ever considered choosing a brand spokesperson based on their overall good looks and charisma?
Shareable:
The Halo Effect plays a serious role in shaping public perception.
Shareable:
The Halo Effect occurs when our overall impression of a person influences our judgments of their specific traits.
Shareable:
The Halo Effect suggests that a positive general impression can produce favourable evaluations across various attributes.
Shareable:
The Halo Effect is particularly relevant in spokesperson selection.
Shareable:
Physically attractive individuals tend to be rated more favourably in terms of personality traits, a principle that can be applied in choosing brand ambassadors representing an organisation.
Shareable:
Over-reliance on positive associations can lead to skewed public perceptions, potentially glossing over flaws or issues that need addressing.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has

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