No, I’m not answering this like Entertainment Weekly. Please. The visible characteristics of Trump’s hair do not interest me in the slightest—and I will not be needing them. I will, however, need psychology to understand the problem, and consequently answer it.
Love is blind. Let me put this into perspective. When Brad loves Angelina, Brad unconsciously forgoes Angelina’s many flaws because, well, he loves her. I’d like to emphasize “unconsciously” because Brad is intuitively, and not deliberately, avoiding Angelina’s flaws. Brad’s love for Angelina causes him to perceive Angelina’s flaws as hardly attention-worthy. This leaves us with a cognitive bias—a pattern of thinking that affects judgement. In this case it is called the ‘halo effect’.
The tendency for an impression created in one area—to influence opinion in another area—is called the halo effect. And this can be very flexible. When you find Angelina funny, you tend to think she’s smart too. When you find Brad polite, you tend to think he’s generous. You get the idea.
These correlations are mostly erroneous. So why do we still make them? Well there are several theories, but I think it’s primarily because of the mind’s proclivity to think in terms of connections—causal thinking. Our minds are associative machines that often make causes for effects, and effects for causes—we connect dots when there aren’t any. Again, we do this involuntarily. Angelina may not be smart and Brad may not be so generous…but you connected those dots anyway. In a sense, the halo effect is a blinding effect, especially when it distorts reality.
The implications of this bias are numerous. Remember the models in those Pepsi ads? They have absolutely nothing to do with the product. But the impression you have of the model impacts the way you evaluate Pepsi. Celebrity endorsements work according to the same principle. Why is Beats so popular? Lebron James wears beats. Lebron James is cool. Beats is therefore—cool.
Fascinating isn’t it?
Have you noticed how your most competent teacher could also be the most amenable? Do you now realize why a firm handshake could be pivotal for a successful interview? Or why the cover of a book is a marketing play house?
Why do you think physical beauty is the cornerstone of attractiveness? Because it compromises for the many other conditions one may perceive as luring. Upon seeing a handsome bloke or a beautiful woman, you automatically assume he or she has other great qualities. The halo effect is thus, justifiably, also called the “what is beautiful is good” principle.
You might now be wondering how any of this is even remotely related to trump—let alone his hair. So far I’ve only addressed positive connections. But the halo effect can work backwards too. A negative impression can influence a negative opinion.
In other words, if you find fault in Trump, you are inclined to find fault in his other features—like his hair. I am not saying his hair is any good at face value. The foundation for hate may not be attributed to the halo effect, but it definitely injects intensity.