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…)

The Process of Bullying in Stages

Bullying is a process. It goes through stages, pre-beginning stage, beginning stage, middle stage, and late stage. Understand that depending on the people involved, the environment, and the situation, the bullying can move through the stages either quickly or more slowly and can even skip stages.

Pre-beginning Stage of Bullying

A group of classmates or coworkers (bullies) search for a target. Once they spot a potential target (PT), they watch them closely, studying them. Here’s what the bullies try to figure out:

  • What excites the PT
  • What makes the PT happy, sad, angry, upset, etc.
  • What the PT most desires
  • Any voids in life the PT has
  • Any unmet and unfulfilled wants and needs the PT has.
  • The PT’s body language and facial expressions to assess moods and mental states.

Close up of examining of test sample of microchip transistor under the microscope in laboratory.

Understand that bullies want to know these things to figure out whether the PT would be an easy target.

Beginning Stage.

Bullies test the waters by throwing out subtle or not-so-subtle insults and attacks to see how the PT reacts. If the PT gives the bullies the reaction they’re looking for, the bullies then select the PT and make him their target.

By this stage, the bullies have gathered the intel they searched for in the pre-beginning stage. They then weaponize it and use it in their attacks against the target.

For example: If the bullies find out that the target’s father is an alcoholic or that his wife cheating on him. They may use the info to bait the target into a reaction.  They may say something to the effect of:

“Hey, So-and-so! I heard that your father is a drunk (or, your wife cheated on you)! Is that true?”

The target then fires back saying:

“No, he’s not (she didn’t)! You lay off!

They put the target on the defense, then build off the target’s defensive reaction. The bullies laugh and say, “Aww! ‘Smatter? ‘Truth hurt?”

And on and on the bullies build on each answer to get the target riled.

The bullies continue to berate the new target until they get bored with the same tactics. They then escalate the attacks.

Middle Stage.

In this stage, the bullies signal to other classmates or coworkers that the target is ripe for attack. Bystanders are encouraged, even recruited to unite with the bullies and join in the torment. They do this through gossip, rumors, accusations, and smear campaigns. One by one, people turn against the target until she has no support system and no friends left.

Now the target has become radioactive- no one wants to associate with the target because they know they risk becoming the next target if they do. To ensure their own reputations don’t become tarnished, the bystanders may either avoid the person altogether, or they become willing participants in the attacks. These people become secondary bullies.

The bullying becomes physical and the target begins to suffer physical attacks and beatings by the bullies. Although physical bullying can happen in the workplace, it’s much more common in the school environment.

Also, bullies and their recruits go home and tell their families what a terrible person the target is. The family members then spread the word to the people they know and everyone meets the target’s reputation before getting the chance to meet the person.

Late Stage.

Now people who don’t even know the target wish to attack him. It becomes a case of “you don’t know me, but I know you.” Understand that this stage is the most dangerous because everyone has become so deranged and emboldened that they don’t try to hide their hate anymore. Why? They’ve gotten away with their abuse for so long that they know that there’s no incentive to stop the attacks.

And where there’s no accountability for abuse, there are no boundaries or limits to it. Therefore, the bullies (and everyone else) can now escalate the abuse at will. This is the stage that bullying has become life-threatening. Everyone in the community hates the target and wants nothing more than to see the target suffer. They don’t know why they hate the target and, more than likely, couldn’t tell you what the target did to deserve it. All they know is that they loathe the target and have an intense desire to destroy the person.

Again, this stage is the most dangerous and if you’ve reached this stage, now is the time to leave. Pick up and move to a different area and tell no one where you’re going or even that you’re moving. Just quickly and quietly disappear because your life may depend on it.

How it Feels to Be Bullied and Gaslighted

It’s not easy for people to distinguish between the real bully and the victim. Bullies are good at making victims look guilty, showing only the victim the worst, most brutal, and evil sides of themselves while showing everyone else their best, sweetest, and most loving halves of their personalities.

The bully may feign sympathy and compassion for her victim by making statements such as,
“I feel so terrible for (victim’s name). I sincerely hope she gets the help she needs before it’s too late.”

Bullies accuse their victims of attacking them when it’s the over way around, and people can quickly either get confused and not know who did what to who or blame the wrong person altogether.

Many times, if you’re a target of such torment, whether people believe you or not depends on their relationship with ou and with the bully. If the bully is someone they either like or love, they will, out of loyalty, take the bully’s word over yours. It won’t matter that the bully is in the wrong.

People tend to believe those they care about and disbelieve those they don’t care about or don’t know. Even worse, they may know that the person is, in fact, an abuser but still side with them against you if they like them even a little more than they do you.

Bullies aren’t stupid. They know what they’re doing. Often, they will act as a great person around everyone else. In public, they present as fine, exemplary, upstanding, and respectable human beings. But only the poor, demonized victim knows the truth.

Victims are usually stressed and worn down. If the bully has gaslighted them for long enough, he has persuaded they victim himself that it’s all his fault. Many targets of bullying have had their realities distorted over time, and it’s the worst thing to happen to them.

Many victims believe themselves to be horrible people and deserving of the torture inflicted upon them because many times, they’re blamed and made responsible for their suffering. That’s what bullying and gaslighting do after so long. They brainwash you!

That’s why Bullying and Gaslighting are such a deadly combination. Bullies and their allies force victims to believe that they’re so inherently evil that the only thing they can do is cause anger, hurt, and hatred.

Here’s what life is like for a target of such atrociousness:

You try. You try so hard to be the best person you can be. Yet you’re tortured and tormented by bullies every day. Deep inside, you know you’re a great person, but no one else can see inside you to make that determination.

Because your reputation is in the toilet, others consistently attack you because bullies have defamed you for so long that everyone believes the lies. And no one will tell you what you did wrong, nor will they tell you how to fix it.

And because of the constant attacks, you live in continuous fight-or-flight mode. You can’t help but stay on the defense, and you’re a mess of emotions.

Because bullying leaves you so emotional, you cry, even sob- sometimes uncontrollably! You lash out at the bullies who attack you and at the bystanders who join them after they’ve all pushed you so far.

Although your emotional reaction is entirely normal and natural under the circumstances, they all have the nerve, the audacity, the chutzpah- to get angry at you! That’s right! They get pissed at you for the emotional outburst and use it against you.

Even worse, they use any signs of self-defense against you. And they use it as their confirmations that you’re the bad guy, you’re too sensitive, too emotional, or that you’re crazy.

So, they punish you by escalating the bullying. How can a target- one who’s bullied to pieces and to the point of exhaustion- possibly defend himself against such forces if they don’t have any knowledge about how bullies operate and what they can do to counter them?

Understand that this is the plight of the target.

In bully-speak, targets are not allowed to be themselves. They’re not allowed to stand up for themselves nor speak out against the abuse. In the minds of bullies and bystanders, targets should take it, because they’re beneath everyone else and they deserve it. Bullies expect them to eat crap and enjoy it- just take it with a smile and a yes sir/ma’am, then ask for seconds.

Here’s another scenario to be aware of:

In some cases, you’re so marginalized and have so many people after you that when you’re in a crowded hallway and someone sneaks up behind you and wallops you between the shoulder blades hard enough to knock the wind out of you, and you look behind you to see who it was that hit you, no one points them out. The person who hit you only cowardly fades in the sea of people.

bullied victim crying tears

As you look around for your attacker, everyone in the crowd is eyeing you with a mixture of hostility, hilarity, and contempt. And you know what they’re thinking just by the way their eyes seem to shoot firey bullets at you.

They all look at you as if to say,
“Ha! Yeah! We know who hit you! Like we’ll ever tell you!” or
“So? Whadaya gonna do? Accuse all of us? Right! Like you’d have even a chance of making it home in one piece if you did!”

Maybe someone steals from you or keys your car. Again, you don’t know who to suspect because there are so many people out to hurt you. There’s no way you can pinpoint a specific person.

Understand that this is what it’s like once the bullying reaches a certain point. It’s as if the bullying has now taken on a life of its own. Because the idea of tormenting you seems to be so ingrained in everyone around you- bullies, bystanders, even authority figures- that they can no longer help themselves.

Anytime things have reached such a fever pitch, they’re signs that you’re in grave danger! In a situation like this, the bullying has escalated to a hazardous level, and it likely won’t get better but only worse. Your only recourse is to leave the environment and make a new start somewhere else.

Leave now while you still have your health- and maybe your life! Because if the bullies or their minions don’t kill you first, the stress of it will!

How it Feels to Be Bullied and Gaslighted

dreamstime_xs_13842071

It’s not easy for people to distinguish between the real bully and the victim. Bullies are good at making victims look guilty, showing only the victim the worst, most brutal, and evil sides of themselves while showing everyone else their best, sweetest, and most loving halves of their personalities.

The bully may feign sympathy and compassion for her victim by making statements such as,
“I feel so terrible for (victim’s name). I sincerely hope she gets the help she needs before it’s too late.”

Bullies accuse their victims of attacking them when it’s the over way around, and people can quickly either get confused and not know who did what to who or blame the wrong person altogether.

Many times, if you’re a target of such torment, whether people believe you or not depends on their relationship with ou and with the bully. If the bully is someone they either like or love, they will, out of loyalty, take the bully’s word over yours. It won’t matter that the bully is in the wrong.

dreamstime_xs_116235659

People tend to believe those they care about and disbelieve those they don’t care about or don’t know. Even worse, they may know that the person is, in fact, an abuser but still side with them against you if they like them even a little more than they do you.

Bullies aren’t stupid. They know what they’re doing. Often, they will act as a great person around everyone else. In public, they present as fine, exemplary, upstanding, and respectable human beings. But only the poor, demonized victim knows the truth.

Victims are usually stressed and worn down. If the bully has gaslighted them for long enough, he has persuaded they victim himself that it’s all his fault. Many targets of bullying have had their realities distorted over time, and it’s the worst thing to happen to them.

Many victims believe themselves to be horrible people and deserving of the torture inflicted upon them because many times, they’re blamed and made responsible for their suffering. That’s what bullying and gaslighting do after so long. They brainwash you!

dreamstime_xs_20001474

That’s why Bullying and Gaslighting are such a deadly combination. Bullies and their allies force victims to believe that they’re so inherently evil that the only thing they can do is cause anger, hurt, and hatred.

Here’s what life is like for a target of such attrociousness:

You try. You try so hard to be the best person you can be. Yet you’re tortured and tormented by bullies every day. Deep inside, you know you’re a great person, but no one else can see inside you to make that determination.

Because your reputation is in the toilet, others consistently attack you because bullies have defamed you for so long that everyone believes the lies. And no one will tell you what you did wrong, nor will they tell you how to fix it.

dreamstime_xs_52527718

And because of the constant attacks, you live in continuous fight-or-flight mode. You can’t help but stay on the defense, and you’re a mess of emotions.

Because bullying leaves you so emotional, you cry, even sob- sometimes uncontrollably! You lash out at the bullies who attack you and at the bystanders who join them after they’ve all pushed you so far.

Although your emotional reaction is entirely normal and natural under the circumstances, they all have the nerve, the audacity, the chutzpah- to get angry at you! That’s right! They get pissed at you for the emotional outburst and use it against you.

Even worse, they use any signs of self-defense against you. And they use it as their confirmations that you’re the bad guy, you’re too sensitive, too emotional, or that you’re crazy.

dreamstime_xs_10632036

So, they punish you by escalating the bullying. How can a target- one who’s bullied to pieces and to the point of exhaustion- possibly defend himself against such forces if they don’t have any knowledge about how bullies operate and what they can do to counter them?

Understand that this is the plight of the target.

In bully-speak, targets are not allowed to be themselves. They’re not allowed to stand up for themselves nor speak out against the abuse. In the minds of bullies and bystanders, targets should take it, because they’re beneath everyone else and they deserve it. Bullies expect them to eat crap and enjoy it- just take it with a smile and a yes sir/ma’am, then ask for seconds.

Here’s another scenario to be aware of:

In some cases, you’re so marginalized and have so many people after you that when you’re in a crowded hallway and someone sneaks up behind you and wallops you between the shoulder blades hard enough to knock the wind out of you, and you look behind you to see who it was that hit you, no one points them out. The person who hit you only cowardly fades in the sea of people.

dreamstime_xs_49240841

As you look around for your attacker, everyone in the crowd is eyeing you with a mixture of hostility, hilarity, and contempt. And you know what they’re thinking just by the way their eyes seem to shoot firey bullets at you.

They all look at you as if to say,
“Ha! Yeah! We know who hit you! Like we’ll ever tell you!” or
“So? Whadaya gonna do? Accuse all of us? Right! Like you’d have even a chance of making it home in one piece if you did!”

Maybe someone steals from you or keys your car. Again, you don’t know who to suspect because there are so many people out to hurt you. There’s no way you can pinpoint a specific person.

Understand that this is what it’s like once the bullying reaches a certain point. It’s as if the bullying has now taken on a life of its own. Because the idea of tormenting you seems to be so ingrained in everyone around you- bullies, bystanders, even authority figures- that they can no longer help themselves.

Anytime things have reached such a fever pitch, they’re signs that you’re in grave danger! In a situation like this, the bullying has escalated to a hazardous level, and it likely won’t get better but only worse. Your only recourse is to leave the environment and make a new start somewhere else.

Leave now while you still have your health- and maybe your life! Because if one of the bullies or their minions don’t kill you first, the stress of it will!