The halo effect is a relatively well-known cognitive bias that is based on the premise that our judgments of a person’s character can be influenced by our overall impression of that person, whether that impression was manifested by our minds or by outside sources.
The halo effect was named by psychologist Edward Thorndike and the phenomenon seems to be illustrated most clearly when masses of individuals view celebrities or individuals who possess a great deal of notoriety and influence.
In other words, many individuals hold celebrities who they have never met face-to-face in high regard, simply based on their attractiveness and/or the fact that those individuals are celebrities.
As a photographer and photojournalist who has been on stage with many pop culture icons and as one who has shot countless portraits of celebrities (from Gene Simmons, Drake and Snoop Dogg to Spike Lee and Alanis Morisette), I have witnessed the halo effect being perpetuated by the masses, first hand and on many occasions.
It has always been perplexing for me to observe individuals who are as normal as you or I, being held in the highest regard, as if they have transcended their humanness, simply because they have attained greatness within one, two or a few specific areas, or simply because they possess what modern western society defines as beauty.
The reason that I find the halo effect interesting and disturbing is because the individuals who perpetuate it the most seem to be those individuals who do not see themselves as being capable of attaining the greatness that many pop culture icons have attained — individuals who are simply part of the masses.
To view another human being as being superhuman almost presupposes that they are better than you. This is contrary to my own belief, which is that we are all capable of greatness. We all have the ability to live passionately and the potential to excel in areas that are important to our individual human experience or to the world at large.
As the acclaimed psychotherapist Viktor Frankl once said, “if we take man as he is, we make him worse. But, if we take man as he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be.”
[To view more work by Ajani Charles work please visit ajani.ca]