By Eric Law

Think of one celebrity scandal that you can remember. Be it a hidden affair or a discovered infatuation with drugs, there is often a large draw of ire that lasts for days, if not weeks.

Celebrities have had their entire careers derailed by bad publicity. Take for example Milli Vanilli and their lip-syncing catastrophe or Tiger Woods and his secret mistresses. Their missteps cost them record deals and sponsorships worth millions of dollars.

Thousands of people err in the same ways everyday. They are part of the human experience. So why can’t we look away when celebs are at fault?

Due to our increased exposure to and awareness of these individuals compared to ordinary passersby, we know their names, their jobs, their talents. To some extent, we even feel like we know them as people. (Google “parasocial relationships” for more information on that phenomenon.)

Beyond that, we instinctively feel a positive impression of these famed individuals even though we may know nothing about their personalities.  

This impression comes from the halo effect. When an individual is found to excel in one area, we attribute that excellence to his entire character. A successful boxer will be seen as a generally positive character even if he has violent tendencies up to and including biting off someone’s ear. In such horrible instances, however, the halo effect is broken, and we are angry and even annoyed that the celebrity is not as good as we thought.

Given that celebrities depend on their personal brand for income and career advancement, a bad reputation equals bad business.


[Photo credit: Pixabay, WikiImages]