Imagine a pervasive effect that creates a systematic bias in how people perceive your union, based not on evidence or careful evaluation but on a “global affect” or feeling.
This is the halo effect, an old and widely studied psychological phenomenon:
The halo effect is the tendency for positive impressions of a person, company, brand, or product in one area to positively influence one’s opinion or feelings in other areasWikipedia
The halo effect is generally though of as the influence of a “global evaluation” on individual assessments of a brand, person or institution. Thus, if we like a person, we typically assume positive attitudes towards their other attributes, even if we know nothing about those traits.
Similarly, if we like “unions” generally then we will have positive attitudes to most or all unions specifically, and have more positive impressions to union activities.
This global effect is capable of altering perceptions of even unambiguous stimuli about which someone has sufficient information to make an independent judgement.
For example, many people change their preference of cola after a blind-taste test when they know the brand they drank.
The halo effect is an unconscious influence that involves significant, substantial impact over our conscious views, attitudes and beliefs.
Brands have benefited from the halo effect for decades. It explains why Apple was able to transfer the ipod sense of “cool” across its lacklustre set of laptops and PCs. It’s also why universities with Nobel Prize winning academics are perceived by students to be better places to study.
The halo effect is unconscious. Most people are unaware when they’re influenced by the halo effect. Their judgements, inferences and attitudes towards unions can change without them even knowing they’ve changed.
Unions in Australia benefited from significantly positive perceptions following the Your Rights at Work campaign. And despite decades of demonisation by conservative political forces and big business, most Australians still have a positive view of unions.
More recently, during the pandemic, unions were very perceived as very positive players in protecting workers and community safety. This is also the case when it comes to unions and safety — most people have an overwhelmingly positive attitudes towards unions when it comes to workplace safety.
Most Australians have a positive view of unions, with only around 30% thinking unions are bad for Australia.
Contributing to this positive attitude towards unions is the Australian Unions “brand”. Over the past few years, the ACTU has taken vigorous and proactive steps to improve and defend “Brand Union”.
Campaigns like For the Workers helps inoculate workers and members against attacks by the powers-that-be — and fosters an unconsciously positively attitude towards unions generally.
Seeing ads online or on TV about unions standing for workers helps extend that impression across the entire union movement.