The Halo Effect
The Halo Effect


The "halo effect" was first identified in this 1920 article by the American psychologist, Edward Thorndike: “A Constant Error in Psychological RatingsJournal of Applied Psychology 4 (1920) pp.469-477. (This version, perhaps a reprint, shows pp.26-29)

If you enjoyed reading the ideas in The Halo Effect, you may also like some of these books:

Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense
by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton
An excellent book that exposes many common errors and mistakes in thinking about business. Highly recommended.
In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington

In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington
by Robert E. Rubin and Jacob Weisberg
A thoughtful primer on probabilistic thinking in business and government. Quoted in my Chapter 10.

The Black Swan The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Nassim Taleb’s new book, to be published in April 2007. How "improbable" events are more frequent than we think.
Fooled By Randomness Fooled by Randomness:  The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A look at random phenomena in financial markets—and how the human mind overlays meaning where in fact there may be none.
Expert Political Judgment: How Good is It? How Can We Know? Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?
by Philip E. Tetlock
A brilliant study about expert forecasting—Tetlock shows how modest is our ability to predict the future, yet how tenaciously we cling to the notion we were 'almost right'. He also shows, as I quote in my Chapter 7, that while 'Hedgehogs' may occasionally be spectacularly successful, they are routinely outperformed by 'Foxes.'
Extraordinary Popular Delusions: And the Madness of Crowds Extraordinary Popular Delusions: And the Madness of Crowds
by Charles MacKay
The classic work on popular delusions from 1841. As relevant in today’s world as it was then.
In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company
by Andy Grove
Not your standard CEO self-congratulation. Andy Grove understands the necessity of taking risks in setting strategy, as well as the need to lead people with confidence and assurance.  One of the best business books ever written.
Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American
by Richard Tedlow
A new biography of Andy Grove, by Harvard’s leading business historian, Richard Tedlow
In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington Becoming a Critical Thinker: A Guide for the New Millennium, Second Edition
by Robert Todd Carroll
In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington The Skeptic’s Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions
by Robert Todd Carroll

For further reading about some of the people featured in The Halo Effect, check out these books:

Herbert Simon Herbert Simon, psychologist, father of artificial intelligence, and Nobel Prize winner in economics for his research on decision making.

Models of My Life
A wonderful account of Simon’s life in science and academia. It includes Simon’s Travel Theorem, quoted in the Preface of my book.

Administrative Behavior
The classic work on decisions in organizations

The Black Swan Richard Feynman was one of the great scientists of our time, as well as a teacher, musician, raconteur, and so much more. Essential readings for a general audience include:

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
Feynman’s life in and out of science—the classic memoirs of a curious character

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman
A collection of essays, speeches, and interview, including the 1974 Commencement Address at CalTech with its reference to Cargo Cult Science, mentioned in Chapter 1.

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist
Feynman on science, uncertainty, and values. 

Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters Of Richard P. Feynman
A collection of Feynman’s correspondence, from the 1940s until his death in 1988.

Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould was a prolific writer on natural history and evolution. Two of his books that are relevant to The Halo Effect are:

Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
Clear thinking about stories and science, causes and effects, with two passages I quote in Chapter 5 and Chapter 8.

Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball
Why is the .400 hitter in decline?  Not because hitters are less skilled today—quite the contrary. Relevant for thinking about absolute and relative performance in business—see my Chapter 7.

Other books that offer a good introduction to Gould’s work as a natural scientist are:
The Mismeasure of Man and The Flamingo’s Smile

George Orwell George Orwell is best known for 1984 and Animal Farm, but should also be read also for his sharp essays and wise reportage. My book owes a debt to Orwell for two essays, Politics and the English Language and Notes on Nationalism. Here are some books to check out:

The Orwell Reader: Fiction, Essays, and Reportage


In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950 (Collected Essays Journalism and Letters of George Orwell)

Christopher Hitchens Christopher Hitchens is an incisive observer of current affairs and a sharp critic, always provocative and a joy to read. Good books to check out include:

Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
The best introduction to Hitchens on a wide range of topics

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice
How could anyone find fault with Mother Teresa?  Find out here.

Letters to a Young Contrarian
On free thinking, with a quote about parsimony in my Chapter 9.

Why Orwell Matters
One essayist reminds us of the enduring value of another.


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Copyright 2008 The Halo Effect, Philip Rosenzweig