The Attractiveness Halo Effect

When it comes to food, presentation and taste are connected: the eyes eat first. The science suggests we apply a similar idea to people: attractive people are seen as smarter, kinder, more moral, and so on. It’s called the attractiveness halo. How can we outsmart it?


Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24(3), 285.

Dion, K. K. (1972). Physical attractiveness and evaluation of children’s transgressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24(2), 207-213.

Landy, D., & Sigall, H. (1974). Beauty is talent: Task evaluation as a function of the performer’s physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29(3), 299.

Mishan, L. (2014, February 3). “Cutting Straight to the Chase With Dessert”. The New York Times.


The Halo Effect was created by Olivia Kang, Kirsten Morehouse, Evan Younger, and Mahzarin Banaji. Research and Development Assistants for this episode include Moshe Poliak, Megan Burns, and Cynthia Shen. Outsmarting Human Minds is supported by Harvard University, PwC, and Johnson & Johnson.

Narration by Olivia Kang

Sound Editing & Mixing by Evan Younger

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Artwork by Olivia Kang