The Halo Effect

Experimental psychologists speak of the “halo effect”: a high perceived cross-correlation between all positive and all negative traits. That is, human beings seem unable or unwilling to consider that others may be good and bad in different areas; we want to assign everybody entirely to good or bad categories, so as to praise or condemn them for everything on the menu. Whenever a person is good-looking, therefore, then we attribute all the virtues to him or her – we honestly but perhaps quite inaccurately perceive the beautiful person as intelligent, wise, witty and kind. This has repeatedly been proven in the laboratory. The corollary is, of course, that we perceive the ugly person as stupid and wicked. Indeed, some languages use “ugly” as their standard adjective for reprehensible behaviour, a form of discrimination entirely overlooked by the purifiers of discourse.

The ultimate consequence of the identification of goodness and beauty that is hardwired into us by evolution and verbalised by idiot poetasters is when a beautiful person is rendered incapable of understanding that she (or he) is anything less than perfect. Happens all the time.

Ninety-five percent of human beings want to be physically attractive, and the other five per cent are liars. Such a wish is entirely rational in the light of the way humans beings treat one another. The whole concept of one’s “inner” self, as a speculative contrast with one’s outer appearance, was probably invented, either by ugly people in a desperate attempt to get out from under the Halo Effect, or else by people reproached for their devotion to some beautiful or handsome asshole.

Moreover, if the exterior is the mirror of the soul, and if Goodness, Truth and Beauty are one, then the inability to get a date must be a moral failing. As if that wasn’t bad enough in itself, now you get to have a bad conscience over it.

Posted on May 28, 2009 at 08:57 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, The Myth Of "Inner Beauty"

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