Archive for July, 2010

The Halo Effect

July 31, 2010 2 comments

We instinctively know that our society affords the benefit of the doubt to the best looking among us. Newsweek just ran an article to help us quantify exactly how much.

In her recent article, “The Beauty Advantage,” columnist Jessica Bennett cites the following facts:

  • Handsome men earn, on average, five percent more than do less attractive men (four percent more for women).
  • Over his career, an attractive man will make $250,000 more on average than a less attractive man (from economist Daniel Hamermesh).
  • Thirteen percent of women say they’d consider plastic surgery if it made them more competitive (American Society of Plastic Surgeons).
  • Sixty percent of overweight women and forty percent of overweight men say they’ve experienced employment discrimination.
  • Fifty-seven percent of surveyed hiring managers told Newsweek that qualified but less attractive candidates will have a harder time landing a job.
  • Sixty-one percent of managers (majority men) surveyed said that women gain an advantage by wearing work attire that shows their figure.
  • Ranked in order of importance, looks came in 3rd behind experience (1st), confidence (2nd), but ahead of the candidate’s school (4th).

The article goes on to talk about “The Halo Effect,” saying, “like a pack of untrained puppies, we are mesmerized by beauty, blindly ascribing intelligent traits to go along with it.” I wouldn’t stop at intelligence.  I’d add virtue, charisma, energy, wisdom, and sexual ability.

It is intellectually dubious to assume qualities like intelligence and virtue based solely on appearance, and it is morally dubious to grant jobs and benefits based on that assumption. And you know what? None. Of. That. Matters.

As I’ve written in earlier entries, society grants attention and benefit to those of high status. Status drives our attraction instincts.  This is a biological pack-animal imperative, hard-wired into the collective unconscious. And one attribute of the high-status pack animal is that they are physically attractive. We all unknowingly contribute to this silent social contract, even if it does not benefit us as much as others. We may judge it, or condemn it, or wish it away, but it is fact. Read more…


Come to Marketing, Where Stereotyping is Still Encouraged

July 27, 2010 2 comments

There are two very noticeable constants that connect the 60’s advertising world of Mad Men to the modern ad agency: 1) the actual agency names, which are mostly still around, and 2) the permissibility of flagrant and often pejorative stereotyping as a means of doing effective business.

“Oh, we’ll give them this new thing, and they’ll all love it. They always do.”

I went to school in the time of the political correctness movement, and then finally settled in a career involving mass segmentation – which is to say, professional pigeon-holing.  So I now do for a living that which was impressed on me by my teachers and “bad” and “wrong.”  I’m just lucky, I guess.

Now, I’m not repudiating the practice (or even “refudiating” it, for the sake of the overly-stereotyped “Mamma Grizzlies” out there!).  I actually kind of like the irony of it. We were all taught in grade school to see past common stereotypes and value each individual as a unique snowflake, only to discover that humans actually do break down into easily identifiable, quantifiable, and predictable groups.  Except we now call them personas rather than stereotypes – because we’re not in the dark ages anymore. Read more…

Top Ten Marketing Secrets from Don Draper

July 11, 2010 6 comments

Here are the top ten timeless advertising lessons we can all learn from Mad Men’s Don Draper:



Don Draper, from the AMC series Mad Men


Read more…

Behavior Rules Are Not The Same For Everyone

I was cruising through one of my new favorite blogs: the Inner Circle blog on, and found a great post featuring a video by Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell, author of bestsellers Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers, most recently published What The Dog Saw, a compendium of articles he wrote for the New Yorker. One of the articles he includes is called “The Ketchup Conundrum.” It details the work of a psychophysicist named Howard Moskowitz, and his work helping food companies create the most satisfying foods.

The article features a video from TED, which I highly recommend watching. The video is of Gladwell himself, speaking on this topic. Here is the video:

The most important lesson we can take away from Moskowitz, Gladwell tells us, has to do with human variability. All science, including food science, has for most of its existence “been obsessed with finding universals.” We want to know universal laws. Physicists want to arrive at a Grand Unified “Theory of Everything.” And this idea of trying to arrive at universal causes and forces has applied to psychology as well. Read more…

My First Blog Mention, and It’s a Big One!

People-triggers has been cited by Inside Influence Report!

Inside Influence Report

Inside Influence Report is the blog produced by Dr. Cialdini’s professional training firm, Influence At Work. Its purpose is to apply Cialdini’s principles of influence (and the scientific research surrounding them) to contemporary business practice. The blog lists Dr. Cialdini himself as an author (with co-authors Dr. Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin, CMCT), and follows his interviews, projects and public events.

So, this is humbling and way cool!

Inside Influence Report produces current influence-related articles based and very recent scientific research. Here’s their most recent article on the reasons people choose to “go green.” I am gratified to see that the status transaction figures into the research!

Inside Influence Report: What causes people to be keen to go green?.

Study Demonstrates How We Support Our False Beliefs

Study Demonstrates How We Support Our False Beliefs.

Just ran across this study from the journal Sociological Inquiry, which talks about how we seek out information not for edification, but rather to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs.

Explains the psychology behind narrative-based news.