How Bright is Your Halo? OR Do First Impressions Really Matter?
In a 1920 experiment by American psychologist Edward Thorndike, 2 officers were asked to evaluate their soldiers in terms of physical qualities (neatness, voice, physique, bearing, and energy), intellect, leadership skills, and personal qualities (including dependability, loyalty, responsibility, selflessness, and cooperation).
The results showed that when officers rated soldiers positively in one characteristic, they were more likely to carry that positive perception over to other characteristics, even though the traits were not relevant to each other. This became known as the “Halo Effect”. The same was true when the officers rated soldiers negatively (which is referred to as the “Horn Effect”).
Basically, this means that when you think positively about one trait of an individual, you are more likely to attribute additional positive perceptions for other traits. Or the opposite: by attributing a negative perception to one trait of an individual, you’re more likely to pile on other negative impressions.
After further reading, what really impressed me as a photographer was to learn that the fact that one positive trait, even if merely visual, goes far beyond physical qualities, and ultimately influences judgment on qualities of intellect, leadership, cooperation and more. It seems unfair, but it’s how we are all wired to think and behave.
As humans, we are visual beings. We judge things with our eyes and our perceptions are formed according to the qualities and characteristics we view, so the Halo Effect is possibly part of the reason why personal and professional photographs on websites are so important. The right photo will set the tone for what potential clients can expect from you and the work you do, and that will likely transfer over to the business relationship you’ll form.
Maybe the lesson learned here is that first impressions really do matter, and most people will judge a book by its cover. The good news is that, with a quality photo of yourself that allows your best attributes to be showcased, you can make a positive and lasting first impression.
Keywords: article, behavior, branding photography, branding photos, casual headshots, corporate headshots, first impressions, laine torres photography, minneapolis, professional headshots, professional photographer, psychology
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Laine Torres is a professional photographer who provides branding photography and headshot photos in the Twin Cities Metro Area, MN. Laine works creatively to develop a unique concept for each of her clients that best matches their personality and business goals. Click here to book your initial consultation.
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