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The halo effect refers to the cognitive bias that the first feature we recognize in another person influences how we perceive that person later.Because visual cues are mostly the first we recognize (Bar, Neta, & Linz, 2006), they are important for such a halo effect.
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, in 2007 more than 7 Million people used already online dating platforms (Pflitsch & Wiechers, 2008).
Social network sites or dating services allow individuals to construct a more or less public profile that represents themselves, to invite other users as friends or contacts, and to look at the profiles of other users (for an overview see Boyd & Ellison, 2006).
For this reason, users typically generate personal profiles including descriptors such as age, sex, hobbies, various preferences, interests, location, or professional background. Because photos (mostly of faces) are often displayed at a prominent place and faces generally attract attention automatically (e.g., Vuilleumier, 2000), they play a crucial role in forming the desired online self representation (e.g., Fiorie, Taylor, Mendelsohn, & Hearst, 2008; Young, 2009), a process that is known elsewhere as impression management (Goffman, 1959/1990).
On the one hand, users can describe themselves in a favourable but also authentic way (e.g., Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs, 2006), accentuate their strengths, and represent themselves in a manner they think will attract attention.
On the other hand, what the perceiver finds out about a person is not only a matter of all the information in the profile but instead which information is processed primarily.