https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2019/02/23/12/57/angel-4015514_960_720.jpg [Source](https://pixabay.com/es/illustrations/%C3%A1ngel-el-cielo-espiritual-esp%C3%ADritu-4015514/) ## The Halo Effect First of all let's start with a summary of what the halo effect is: "The halo effect is a type of immediate judgement discrepancy, or cognitive bias, where a person making an initial assessment of another person, place, or thing will assume ambiguous information based upon concrete information. A simplified example of the halo effect is when an individual noticing that the person in the photograph is attractive, well groomed, and properly attired, assumes, using a mental heuristic, that the person in the photograph is a good person based upon the rules of that individual's social concept. This constant error in judgment is reflective of the individual's preferences, prejudices, ideology, aspirations, and social perception. The halo effect is an evaluation by an individual and can affect the perception of a decision, action, idea, business, person, group, entity, or other whenever concrete data is generalized or influences ambiguous information." [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect) "Also known as the physical attractiveness stereotype and the "what is beautiful is good" principle, the halo effect, at the most specific level, refers to the habitual tendency of people to rate attractive individuals more favorably for their personality traits or characteristics than those who are less attractive. Halo effect is also used in a more general sense to describe the global impact of likable personality, or some specific desirable trait, in creating biased judgments of the target person on any dimension. Thus, feelings generally overcome cognitions when we appraise others." [Standing, L. G., in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, Volume 1, 2004](https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-halo-effect-2795906) "The halo effect was named by psychologist Edward Thorndike in reference to a person being perceived as having a halo. He gave the phenomenon its name in his 1920 article "A Constant Error in Psychological Ratings". In "Constant Error", Thorndike set out to replicate the study in hopes of pinning down the bias that he thought was present in these ratings. Subsequent researchers have studied it in relation to attractiveness and its bearing on the judicial and educational systems. Thorndike originally coined the term referring only to people; however, its use has been greatly expanded especially in the area of brand marketing." [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect) "The term "halo" is used in analogy with the religious concept: a glowing circle crowning the heads of saints in countless medieval and Renaissance paintings, bathing the saint's face in heavenly light. The observer may be subject to overestimating the worth of the observed by the presence of a quality that adds light on the whole like a halo. In other words, observers tend to bend their judgement according to one patent characteristic of the person (the "halo"), generalizing towards a judgement of that person's character (e.g., in the literal hagiologic case, "entirely good and worthy")." [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect) "Several different studies have found that when we rate people as good-looking, we also tend to believe that they have positive personality traits and that they are more intelligent. One study even found that jurors were less likely to believe that attractive people were guilty of criminal behavior." [Source](https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-halo-effect-2795906) https://www.maxpixel.net/static/photo/1x/Angel-Beauty-Girl-Female-Woman-Lady-Young-3464524.jpg [Source](https://pixabay.com/es/illustrations/%C3%A1ngel-el-cielo-espiritual-esp%C3%ADritu-4015514/) "A person's attractiveness has also been found to produce a halo effect. Attractiveness provides a valuable aspect of the halo effect to consider because of its multifaceted nature; attractiveness may be influenced by several specific traits. These perceptions of attractiveness may affect judgments tied to personality traits. Physical attributes contribute to perceptions of attractiveness (e.g., weight, hair, eye color). For example, someone who is perceived as attractive, due in part to physical traits, may be more likely to be perceived as kind or intelligent. The role of attractiveness in producing the halo effect has been illustrated through a number of studies. People perceived as being more attractive were more likely to be perceived as trustworthy and friendly. What this suggests is that perceptions of attractiveness may influence a variety of other traits, which supports the concept of the halo effect." [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect) "Study results showing the influence of the halo effect in the judicial context exist: - Efran (1974) found subjects were more lenient when sentencing attractive individuals than unattractive ones, even though exactly the same crime was committed. The researchers attributed the result to a societal perception that people with a high level of attractiveness are seen as more likely to have successful futures due to corresponding socially desirable traits. - Monahan (1941) studied social workers who were accustomed to interacting with a diverse range of people and found that the majority experienced difficulty when asked to consider that a beautiful person was guilty of a crime. - A study presented two hypothetical crimes: a burglary and a swindle. The burglary involved a woman illegally obtaining a key and stealing $2,200 (equivalent to $10,000 today, for context); the swindle involved a woman manipulating a man to invest $2,200 in a nonexistent corporation. The results showed that when the offense was not related to attractiveness (as in the burglary) the unattractive defendant was punished more severely than the attractive one. However, when the offense was related to attractiveness (the swindle), the attractive defendant was punished more severely than the unattractive one. The study imputes that the usual leniency given to the attractive woman (as a result of the halo effect) was negated or reversed when the nature of the crime involved her looks." [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect) ## The Halo Effect & Deception In the context of fraud and deception it is very common to see the halo effect exploited in order to maximize rewards of fraudulent operations as well as to minimize the risk of the abuse being detected and /or confronted. Examples include: - The stereotypical method used by Russian/Ukrainian scammers of using attractive young women as fronts for their operations, all the way from mail order bride scams to art plagiarism in Steem. - The identities stolen in cases of ID theft in Steem being almost exclusively attractive young women. - [Con Artists](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_trick) usually being or otherwise hiring very attractive people for in person engagement, preferably of the opposite sex of the target/mark (the person to be swindled, scammed, robbed) - The pervasive use by intelligence agencies of very attractive women as [HUMINT](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_intelligence_(intelligence_gathering)) assets (spies) https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2018/02/18/18/23/angels-3163022_960_720.jpg [Source](https://pixabay.com/es/photos/angels-%C3%A1ngel-alas-el-cielo-3163022/) ## The Halo Effect And ID Theft Fraudsters in Steem that engage in ID theft -usually combined with other types of abuse- are very aware of the halo effect, perhaps not even at a conceptual or academic level, but at least at a practical one. Almost without exception the identities stolen are of young very attractive women. ## The Halo Effect & ID Deception Going into the realm of the ID deception intersection with the halo effect, one point that cannot go without mention is the travel blog of a famous Steem account that uses as a front a young asian woman of very **sweet** appearance who, according to a lot of people that met her personally in steemfest, **can barely speak English**, although the articles posted in the account, purportedly written by her, are written in a fluent almost impeccable English. In short, attractive model + ghostwriter is one of the stereotypical places where the halo effect intersects ID deception in the context of Steem blogging. Another common intersection of the halo effect with ID deception happens in the art spheres of Steem, given that users are aware that the same artwork presented in the hands of an attractive person will give much more rewards than presented as is, or in the hands of an average person. Thus the appearance and permanence of "artists" that look like models and seem to be selling their looks more than the actual art. https://www.maxpixel.net/static/photo/1x/Girl-Looking-Away-Girls-With-Scarf-On-Her-Mouth-1995624.jpg [Source](https://www.maxpixel.net/Girl-Looking-Away-Girls-With-Scarf-On-Her-Mouth-1995624) ## The Halo Effect & Art Plagiarism The intersection of the halo effect and art plagiarism is exploited extensively, as we have seen lately by certain art plagiarism rings. This serves four purposes: - The exploitation of the effect to make the art look better, of higher quality, more creative. Because of it being presented by an attractive person. - The exploitation of the effect so as to minimize the risk of detection of the plagiarism, since our brains are biased to perceive anything an attractive person makes as honest, trustworthy, true. - The exploitation of the effect so as to minimize the consequences of the plagiarism if it eventually is detected, since attractive persons are given a more lenient treatment for the same abuse. - And the exploitation of the fact that curators/stakeholders that vote for content because they like the looks of the user are precisely those that are interested more in the person than in the content, making any potential discovery of plagiarized content more likely to be condoned and forgiven by those curators, since it is not the art itself they are voting, but the person. As long as it is not ID theft, these curators/stakeholders are fine with the art plagiarism, it is all dandy. That last point is the reason why, when confronted with evidence of plagiarism, many of these halo effect art plagiarists take the apparently nonsensical reaction of verifying their identity with selfies and videos (usually with a [damsel in distress](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damsel_in_distress) scene so as to gain the favors of any available white knight) as if their ID was what was put into question and not the plagiarizing nature of their art. This is not a mistake, they know very well what they are doing, they know the curators/stakeholders that support them don't really care about art plagiarism but only mostly about them not engaging in ID theft, since they are voting heavily based on the looks of the user. So those apparently nonsensical reactions are a sort of: "Hey, I'm not really deceiving you in what you really care about, do you see me? It is me. Have some more of it." to their supporters. # Conclusion In a platform such as Steem where a vote means money, those that hold significant stake (or curate for those that do) will certainly be targeted by any method available, so it is very important for cleaners and curators alike to be well versed in and aware of the halo effect so as to be able to control/compensate for it when assessing content or detecting abuse. It is in that awareness and self-knowledge that both practices, curation and cleaning, pierce the veils of deception and perform with excellence. This is Jaguar Force, Reporting directly from the Jungle. Onwards!