Halo effect

iPod first generation When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, he knew it would take a lot of efforts to rebuild the image that the company had lost while he was gone. Introduction of iMac helped quite a bit, but it was not until the release of iPod when things started looking up for Apple. iPod, as we now know, changed the entire music industry forever. But more than that, iPod changed the very notion of intractability and usability. The huge success and wide adoption of iTunes and iPod interfaces inspired Apple to incorporate them into their other products too. In fact, iPod became a statement of products coming out of Apple because people thought if this company can make something as great as iPod, they must do other things also that great. This phenomena is often referred to as the Halo Effect.

Wikipedia notes, “The halo effect refers to a cognitive bias whereby the perception of a particular trait is influenced by the perception of the former traits in a sequence of interpretations.”. In the late 1920s a researcher named Edward Thorndike found that when army officers were asked to rate their charges in terms of intelligence, physique, leadership and character, there was a high cross-correlation. This means no good-looking person was rated dumb. People seem not to think of other individuals in mixed terms; instead we seem to see each person as roughly good or roughly bad across all categories of measurement.

The concept of halo effect complements the idea of social proof. As I noted earlier, social proof says that if a group of people doing something similar, there is a good reason that’s a good idea. Halo effect, on the other hand, states that if one person possesses a good quality, he may also have other good qualities.

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