weekly forum responses week 3

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In need of a 250 word response/discussion to each of the following forum posts. Agreement/disagreement/and/or continuing the discussion.

Original forum discussion/topic post is as follows:

For this Forum discussion, watch the brief video “10 Stunning Before and After Make Up Pics” at:


After watching the video, ponder this: Social psychologists have found that our perceptions and judgments are subject to a variety of biases and other distorting influences. To what advantage is the deliberate development of the perception of flawless beauty in our society? What disadvantage? Using the attitude heuristic of the Halo Effect, how would your general impressions differ by seeing only the image of the woman on the left side of the screen with the same woman if you saw her image only on the right side of the screen? In other words, just by viewing the two images, describe the personality characteristic (your general impression) of each one separately: woman A and woman B.

Forum post #1

We can often find ourselves using mental shortcuts, little and simple rules that we can apply to guide our judgements and assist with solving daily problems (Aronson, 2011). Typically, we use heuristics when we do not have the time to think carefully, are overloaded with information, or hampered with not enough information to make the decision, in order to solve the issues where the stakes are not very important. The attitude heuristic is applied when we have any positive or negative attitudes that can affect our judgement on an issue. The Halo effect highlights why first impressions are so important, that a first positive interaction with an individual will lead to further positive impressions about the other aspects of that individual (Aronson, 2011). On the other hand, a negative first impression will lead to further negative associations about that individual. A first impression is made quickly, often due to the limited time available during early interactions on a small scale, such as the first strong or weak handshake or a friendly and polite greeting.

The Halo Effect can help “sell” you in a lot of ways, in a positive manner. The perception of beauty often gets people better jobs, higher wages and other non-quantifiable benefits. It is like the horrible comparison of a person asking you to dance, if you perceive them as attractive, you are flattered to be asked to dance, and will think positive thoughts about that individual. Should you find them not attractive, you will find it creepy and annoying, and pass along those traits to their personality. The major downside of this form of perception is that it is fully unjust. We are taught not to judge books by their cover, and yet, a heuristic mindset assists in doing just that. However, if we are aware of that bias, we can stop ourselves from that hasty line of thought and get to know the individual as best we can in the amount of time given. This way, we avoid self-fulfilling prophecies and can be a non-biased judge on the actions of others.

Woman A #7

Woman A appears tired, as though she just got out of a long shift at work. I say shift, because the way she is presented she does not look as though she works in an office, but rather, in retail or food service. Unfortunately, she appears to be in a lower income bracket, due to her tired appearance and lack of cosmetics. She appears as though she has a chip on her shoulder, and is wary of others. It almost appears as though she is wondering why she is getting her picture taken, she is tired and slightly annoyed.

Woman B #6

Woman B, the same woman, is dressed elegantly, as though she is on her way to a cocktail party. She appears to belong in a higher income bracket due to her pearl necklace and professional looking hair and makeup. This woman, I hate to say, looks judgmental and entitled (kind of how I feel now judging this woman, I don’t like this exercise). She appears confident, and is not afraid to have her picture taken. Both women look a little mean as well…

Forum post #2

When examining the Halo Effect, one realizes that a person’s biases about the individuals he or she encounters can have a profound effect on the way they judge the people they meet. For instance, using the images presented in the video, I could make an assumption that the women that wear makeup tend to eat better and exercise more, because the makeup might influence me into believing that they are deeply concerned with their health. Some even argue that more “attractive” individuals are better mates due to supposedly superior genetics. This is because our culture values those that are attractive, young, and fit more than others. However, it is equally likely that if I was the kind of person that had a negative perception of superficial beauty, I might think that the women with the makeup in the video are overly concerned with the way others perceive them, or think that they are less interesting or intelligent because they put too much value in their physical appearance. Then, everything that I learned about them would only reinforce this negative attitude. I will use an example of how the illusory effectcould cloud my perception (Aronson, 2012). For instance, let’s say that while I was in undergrad I had a negative experience with a girl that I considered superficial in the way I described above; then, I discovered that this girl I disliked belonged to a sorority. Now let’s jump back to the girl in the video with the makeup; if I discovered that this girl had also belonged to a sorority, I would automatically assume the worst based on this skewed perception. It would not matter if these two went to different schools, and belonged to different sororities, nor would it be of any concern to me why this woman joined a sorority. It could be she only joined the sorority because he mom attended the same university, or she wanted opportunities for community service. This would be irrelevant, because in my mind all I would see is that she is unpleasant and unlikable, puts far too much value in superficial beauty, and possibly is even rude or unfriendly. Even if she and I were coworkers or had friends in common, it would be difficult to overcome this negative first impression.

To avoid sounding too biased, I will swing this judgmental ideology the opposite way. Let’s say I was a man that spent five or more hours a week in the gym, and did my best to stay active and fit. I might see the women on the left and say to myself that they should take better care of themselves, and should worry more about what kind of message they are sending. A man like this may only wish to date the women he considered as physically desirable as himself. In both cases, it would say far more about my perceptions than anything that may be true about the women pictured. I am assuming that whichever person reminds me more of myself and my personal values is superior to the other without having any real evidence to support my impressions, because I would be victim to the homogeneity effect. This is why even though heuristics and stereotypes may seem useful, they can also limit our judgement (Aronson, 2012). One cannot actually tell how kind or likeable someone is based on a first impression of that individual’s physical appearance. It is likely that those perceived as more physically attractive and outgoing will have more success in his or her career. People like this also tend to make friends easier, and have much left difficulty in networking. It is also an unfair label, because others may become jealous of the success of these individuals and assume that they only achieved success because they were so likable or attractive, which would discount all the hard work they had done to succeed. Neither negative or positive impressions that are based on stereotypes are fair to others.

Forum post #3

For most of these picture of the women, I was shocked by the difference from photo A to photo B. I realized that because of the halo effect, as described by Aronson, 2012, in The Social Animal, depending upon which image they present of themselves, that can make the difference between a very high paying job, and a low income job, or an arrest. Quite frankly, when I viewed the photos of woman #7, I thought that 7-A was a women in a mug shot. I thought that she was some sort of low class criminal. She was very plain looking, her clothes had the look of prison garb, and she looked like she couldn’t care less about what was happening around her, and whether she made a good impression on anyone. The same woman in 7-B was very attractive, looked very confident, and I thought that she was interested in making a good impression on others, and that she cared about herself. If I were to hire a new employee, I would hire 7 B and probably call the police to come and pick up 7A. The most startling pictures to me were the pictures of woman 2. Two A appeared to be very, very plain. She seemed timid, and someone who preferred to melt into the background. She appeared to be someone whom you might find cleaning rooms at a Motel 6. But 2B looked exactly like a movie star from the 40’s. She looked like she wanted to be in the spotlight, in front of a camera, and in front of a group of men. She seemed fake to me, as if she was presenting a false facade, but which is important in the acting business. She probably would impress the movie industry as someone who could be a famous movie star with great acting ability. She would be worth millions, whether she could act or not.

This was an amazing revelation to me, that with little or no prior knowledge about a person, that I could make such judgments about them. It is one thing to develop an impression of a person’s looks, but to assign all other sorts of things to them, including thinking one of them might be a criminal, is a whole different thing.

But this made me all the more sure that as I advise students, and prepare them for interviews, that I need to stress with them the importance of the first impression, especially when it comes to appearance and presentation, including clothing, hair style, make-up, and body language. For some that do not have the impressive resume, then extra time should be spent prepping and primping before the mirror. The good news is that someone who is somewhat plain looking, but with a good make up job, can look flawless. That may lead to a better than average job for that person. But, the negative side of this situation is that the employer may not be hiring the best person for the job, and may be stuck with someone who does not measure up to the job, but looks pretty for the camera.

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