Halo Effect Causes Us to Overestimate Organic Foods

halo effect
halo effect

The halo effect is in play whenever you see a person with a pocket protector and thick glasses and assume he's intelligent. It's a common human judgment error to presume that certain characteristics go together; blondes and joie d' vivre, tans and athleticism, dreadlocks and a fondness for jam-band music.

A researcher at the Cornell, Jenny Wan-chen Lee, and colleagues recently tested the halo effect on food that is labeled "organic". She conducted a double-blind study, feeding the same ice cream, yogurt or potato chips to test subjects, telling half that the food was organic, telling the other half that it was conventionally produced.

The guinea pigs preferred, by a wide margin, the foods they thought were made organically. They also believed these foods had less calories, less fat and more fiber. They also assumed the organics would cost more.