This week’s episode of The Bachelor takes on an interesting dating twist: The three-on-one date occurs with three amazing women (Amanda, Becca, and Caila). Ben chooses one to give the rose to and continue a one-on-one date. Amanda gets the rose, and the other two are sent back. Ben takes Amanda to McDonald’s. The two talk at a booth and continue their date at a street carnival, going on rides together.
The other two women head back to the house, upset and questioning their connections with Ben. Amanda calls him a good guy and says she thinks it was an amazing night and she does not want it to end. Much like Amanda’s comments that Ben is good, this is seen typically on every show every season. The contestants and suitor seem to fall under an interesting phenomenon — the same halo effect that seems possibly to be at play every year on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.
The halo effect is a cognitive bias that occurs from finding someone attractive. “Also known as the physical attractiveness stereotype and the ‘what is beautiful is good’ principle, the Halo Effect 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.” (Standing, L.G., in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, Volume 1, 2004).
How does this apply to the dating show? Listen to everyone describing Ben or to Ben describing the women, since he finds them all to be physically attractive and they find him attractive. Year after year, attractive contestants compete on this show for the suitor — who is equally deemed attractive. One really great example is when Juan Pablo was chosen to be the Bachelor after very little air time in Desiree Hartsock’s season of The Bachelorette. The only thing you knew about him was what he looked like. He was attractive, so the rest is history.
The same issue is occurring this season with Ben. He was already deemed an attractive guy, and with very little knowledge of him, these women go on this show to meet him and give him compliments about how great of a person he is — before they really know him. I find that presumptuous, since none of the women actually know him other than a few dates and conversations.
The halo effect occurs, and they perceive everything he does and his qualities as great. The danger of this is you cannot actually determine someone’s greatness in your assumptions just because they appear to be physically attractive and you like them. Dating is a process, and learning about someone means getting to know them over a period of time to see them in different settings as time goes on.
I would make an assumption that this show sometimes fails to create long-lasting couples due partly to some of this halo effect. It is a time-oriented show, and people cannot really truly get to know each other fully. It is all based on a short time and assumptions that they have found a “good person.”
The problem is the suitor cannot truly know this until he has an actual relationship develop away from the camera. Then the couple sometimes fails, since both really do not know each other well. Of course, if you don’t allow the bias to occur, you can judge the person for who they are and create a long-lasting, healthy relationship, one not based on the halo effect but on understanding and knowing someone fully as time develops the relationship.