Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Halo Effect

Illustration by Lynn Bonnette

Have you heard of The Halo Effect? If you remember any of those Renaissance paintings where all the saints had golden halos around their heads to indicate their importance, it allowed everyone to know who the important people were. It gave them divine characteristics. Well, The Halo Effect is a little like that. The difference is people blessed with a halo by those around them are not usually deserving of it.

The Halo Effect is when skills, attributes, and potential are attributed to people due to their unusual good looks. We all know attractive people are treated different, which is the basis of The Halo Effect. Here’s a quick example in everyday life. As a teacher, I had a student who could easily be a male model. He was beautiful to look at and in excellent shape, but an emotional weakling in almost every way. All the teachers and coach refused to see it. Someone as handsome as he was had to be intelligent. Nope. Someone with such height and physique had to be great at football player. No again. Any guy with such dark romantic looks would be an amazing boyfriend. A huge no! Despite what everyone witnessed, people continued giving him extra chances that an average student would never get because the adults couldn’t conceive that the student could be lazy, ignorant, limited, and selfish. His appearance indicated he possessed characteristics he didn’t have.

This happens all the time in the dating world. We continue to have high hopes for people who have done nothing to deserve our optimistic thinking. We believe if someone looks like a lead from a rom com, then he should behave in a similar manner. At times like this, it is beneficial to make a pro and con list. Too often, our emotions play havoc with logic when dealing with The Halo Effect. The teachers who‘d been endlessly disappointed by the handsome student kept giving him extra chances because of their own conditioning. Unfortunately, they demonstrated to the average or less than average attractive students that the world is not a fair place.

The Halo Effect can and will guarantee an unhappy relationship. What you think someone should be like does not create a great relationship. Instead, it leads to a series of letdowns. It’s not too surprising that often when we get to know a person our perception of him or her changes. Often a handsome, apathetic beau loses his attractiveness with time. A considerate, average looking guy grows more handsome with each romantic gesture.

Often the shorter man or plainer woman is much more interesting and fun. One reason is they learned to be more entertaining because they realize they can’t rely on looks. The Halo Effect won’t work for them. Considering this, you might want to decide if you are choosing your date with what he could be as opposed to what he is.

Most people understand The Halo Effect and use Photo Shop to benefit from it. People are upset when they meet the owner of the enhanced profile because they believe they no longer have the desired traits that the viewer gave them. Of course, they may never have had them no matter what!

The best way to handle this is to accept that wonderful people come in all sorts of packages. Spend less time looking for the perfect package and more time getting to know people behind the package. Try to keep in mind; no one really wears a halo.

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