How “The Horns Effect” Plays a Part in Bullying (Part 2)


(Continued from Part One…)

With the Horns Effect, teachers are less patient with a bullied student who asks questions in class or for help with an assignment. Thus the target of bullying won’t learn as much, won’t work hard, and won’t make very high grades, which will only activate the teacher’s confirmation bias and reinforce her opinion of the poor kid, that the kid is lazy, good for nothing and a crappy student.

If you’re a target of your peers and under the thumb of the Horns Effect, others in your school, workplace, or community begin to see you as a terrible person and block any opportunities for friendships, relationships, and success as word travels quickly.

Anytime you’re bullied and feel you can’t do anything right by anyone, you can bet that you’re on the receiving end of The Horns Effect.

The devil hiding in the businessman – alter ego concept

It doesn’t matter whether or not people’s hatred of you is deserved. The Horns Effect mars everyone’s interactions with you, and you feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall in trying to get anywhere with people.

And because the target, who has been mistreated, is unhappy, miserable, depressed and angry (and who wouldn’t be under those circumstances?), everyone who already hates the target feels justified in their hatred.

Sadly, once the Horn Effect takes hold and people form an image of the target, it’s almost impossible to change. No matter what or how many good deeds she does, or how kind she is to others, her good actions will only be seen as a ploy to kiss-up to, fool and manipulate people.

White egg between angry brown ones

Understand that The Horns Effect is what bullies count on. And once the bullies complete their agenda of destroying you and your reputation, The Horns Affect will automatically come into play.

(The Horns Effect- the tendency to see one bad thing in a person and believe that everything about that person is bad).

It’s tough to get others to change their first impressions of you. It can be done but it takes a truckload of patience and consistency. It also takes a certain amount of pointing out your good qualities, hard work and successes to people, which can backfire if you aren’t careful. People will only think you’re an arrogant blowhard.

Realize that any effort to effect change may do no good or make the situation worse. Because people naturally base their decisions and behavior on deeply hidden feelings, and their actions toward you are subconscious.

Most people are either too lazy or too full-of-themselves to do any critical thinking. When they hate you, they will rationalize any hateful behavior and search for clues in you to confirm that their attitude, feelings and subsequent actions and behavior toward you are justified.

Teachers will often grade student’s papers based on their biases. In other words, they rank a student’s essay based on how they perceive that student. If a teacher sees a student be a low performer and lazy, they’ll grade that paper through the lens of expectation of a lazy, no good student who does poorly.

People don’t judge you from what’s actually there; they judge you from what they expect to be there. If people expect trouble to come from a particular place, then that’s where they’re going to look, which brings me back to the subject. If people don’t like one thing about you, the chances are that they won’t like anything else about you, good or bad.

Most ideas don’t stand on their own merits. People judge ideas based on who they came from.

The Horns and Halo Effects have a way of clouding people’s judgment of a person. People will make irrational beliefs because they believe that the existence of one bad trait means that there’s a presence of another bad quality.

Any time you are under the shadow of The Horns Effect, anything you say, accomplish, create or do is automatically dismissed without consideration of whether it’s genuine.

Casual business start up team is blame a woman in group

No matter who said it or did it, it’s either genuine or it isn’t, based on its own merit. It is what it is, no matter who it came from. A good idea is a good idea, even if it comes from the town whore. A bad idea is a bad idea, even if it came from a pastor’s wife.

Unfortunately, you have little control over other’s perceptions and opinions of you. However, there are a few things you can do, which is to take care of yourself and do the things you love most and that fulfill your soul. Also, lean on and draw closer to the people who love you.

This is  how you keep the spell of The Horns Effect from trashing your self-esteem.

How “The Horns Effect” Plays a Part in Bullying


The Horns Effect (or Reverse Halo Effect) – is the opposite of the Halo Effect. It’s a form of bias that causes people’s perception of a person to be negative based on a single negative trait.

No one’s perfect, and everyone has negative traits. The Horns Effect is an example of how one negative trait over-shadows the positive characteristics of a person- how negative ratings of one quality can easily cross over to judgments of other attributes.

For example, here’s a beautiful and attractive woman. She works hard, has a good heart, and has talent in singing and playing the guitar. Although the woman is kind-hearted, is a knockout in looks and has superior skill in music, if people perceive her as stupid, they may also view her as unattractive and untalented. All it takes is an unfavorable rating of one characteristic to influence lower scores of other qualities.

What happens is that people jump to conclusions about a person too quickly based only on one imperfection and end up wrongly judging the individual.

Other examples of The Horns Effect are when people judge a particular group based on the behavior of a few bad apples- they think that overweight people are lazy and have no willpower, that blondes are dumb, that blacks are thugs, that whites are racist, and that poor people are bums. You get the picture.

The problem is that we see something we don’t like about a person or a particular member of a group, then go on judging them from our own unfavorable view, which only determines our attitude and behavior toward them, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This effect causes us to think bad traits are connected to all other characteristics.

This is what happens when a person is bullied for so long and finally gets fed up and reacts out of emotion. They’re seen as overreacting, overly sensitive, or downright crazy and unhinged.

The Horns Effect causes people to have “selective attention.” They look at one undesirable trait and form an opinion of the whole person based on that one single characteristic. It’s an “all-or-nothing” mentality- black or white thinking with no room for the grey. It’s the idea that people are either good or bad and nothing in between. Bullies and their followers refuse to realize that positive and negative coexist.

This is only a stereotype, and bullies and their sheep are either unable to or refuse to go beyond that stereotype, which then becomes a prejudice against the target. They judge the target based only on their first impression they got from her and refuse to give her a “second chance.” Which only consolidates the bias. They continue to assume the person is bad or evil and treat them harshly or unfairly.

For example, if something comes up missing, people will automatically look at the target and presume him to be the thief who took it.

The victim will then become defensive (as every action produces a reaction).

Here’s another example: When things go wrong, people tend to cut everyone else- anyone else, except the target, some slack and believe that things were only out of their control or if they were within their control, pass it off that “everyone makes mistakes.”

With the target, on the other hand, people will only view that person’s every action with distrust and believe the person caused the mishap deliberately or had an agenda. Sadly, people do this subconsciously.

If anyone else is late for class or work, people will only think, “Oh, traffic must have been backed up” or “So-and-so must’ve had a stressful morning.”

On the other hand, if the target, whom they dislike, does the same thing, people will only think, “As usual, the idiot can’t get their shit together” or “she’s just hell-bent on bending the rules, isn’t she?” “She has no respect for authority.”

This is known as confirmation bias, where we search for and “find” evidence that proves our opinions of the unfortunate target to be accurate, and discount or rationalize proof that doesn’t support our views. People then judge everything the target does.

Understand that people have a psychological need to “be right” about a person. It’s what leads bystanders and others around the target to assume that any lies, rumors, and gossip about them is true, despite a complete lack of evidence.

But if the person is anyone other than the victim, people won’t believe any accusation of wrongdoing even if there’s a mountain of evidence to back it up.

The Horns Effect leads teachers and supervisors to disqualify people who are well-deserving of and qualified for awards and select someone who isn’t. And people will punish the target for a particular behavior while overlooking the same behavior in anyone else base on their personal dislike, disrespect and hatred of the target.

Also, others won’t recognize any improvement or positive change in the target and if they do, they won’t believe it will last. They’ll only see it as, “Oh, she’s just on her best behavior to impress others and get them off her tail. She’ll be back to her bitch-self soon enough. Just give her time.”

At the same time, people may not see poor and unacceptable behavior in someone other than the target. With anyone else, people will say, “Oh, so-and-so would never have done that! That sounds like something (the target’s name) would do!”

Or people will make excuses for someone else. “I’m sure Becky didn’t mean to do XYZ.” Or “Maybe Rhonda is just going through some things and that’s why she snapped and hit Christy with a baseball bat.”

The Horns Effect is the root of discrimination and prejudice just like the Halo Effect is the root of favoritism and partiality.

(Continued in Part two…)