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Cheerleader effect: definition, examples and practical tips

Cheerleader Effect

Written by Niek van Son MSc on November 17, 2023

Niek van Son

Last updated June 3, 2024


Have you ever heard that you appear more charming when surrounded by a group? This fascinating phenomenon is known as the cheerleader effect. In this article, we will dive into how this effect not only affects personal appeal, but also offers surprising opportunities for entrepreneurs. We will share practical tips and insights on how to use this psychological phenomenon to your business advantage.

What is the cheerleader effect?

Individuals look more attractive in a group than when judged separately (Walker & Vul, 2013).

Why is this? Because now you are not paying attention to individual characteristics, but to the bigger picture. The size of the group does not matter for the assessment. Your assessment becomes a kind of average, rather than an individual assessment. The average face in a group is judged more positively than a single individual. Small beauty flaws are not noticed in the group (Walker & Vul, 2013).

How does the cheerleader effect occur?

In a large group, there is a lot of information, many characteristics. Your brain is not capable of assessing all these features individually. So to make yourself look easy, as is often the case with cognitive fallacy, you don't consciously perceive all the details, but group information together. Even before you make a conscious assessment, your brain has already made an overall impression and arranged the various parts into a whole. So your brain makes a kind of general summary of the whole. Evolutionarily speaking, grouping information also used to have advantages for making a quick assessment and thus increasing the chances of survival.

Examples in practice

  • The Ebbinghaus illusion is a good example of how surrounding objects can affect your perception of the object in question. Two identical circles are placed in a group of circles. In one example, the circle appears larger than the other because the surrounding circles are a different size (Roberts, Harris & Yates, 2005).
  • When you assess the state of mind of a group of people, you will first assess the group as a whole (are they angry, happy, scared?) before looking at people individually.

Using the cheerleader effect to your advantage

But how can you use the cheerleader effect to increase your conversions? Let the cheerleader effect give you a hand as an entrepreneur!

  • Think big, so post multiple reviews, offers or products together.
  • Offer bundles or packages to make one product or service seem more attractive.
  • For photos with individuals touting something, be more likely to choose group photos or photos where they are surrounded by other products.
  • Collaborate with companies that complement you and actively communicate this collaboration.
  • Are you going to post success stories? Then don't start with just one but post several at once if they are the very first ones.


Roberts B, Harris M.G. & Yates T.A. (2005). "The roles of inducer size and distance in the Ebbinghaus illusion (Titchener circles)". Perception. 34 (7): 847-56.

Walker, D. & Vul, E. (2013). "Hierarchical encoding makes individuals in a group seem more attractive."Psycological Science.

Niek van Son

Niek van Son MSc

Marketing Management (MSc, University of Tilburg). 10+ years of experience as an online marketing consultant (SEO - SEA). Occasionally writes articles for Frankwatching, Marketingfacts and B2bmarketeers.nl.

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