The Barnum Effect

Moreover, these statements are very popular because most of the time what they say applies to most. These statements are vague and clear to everyone in their wording, but somehow they seem specific when people read them. Descriptions usually consist of vague statements that may be true for anyone, but are judged to be reasonably accurate by the participants. It is not uncommon for a person to hear or read a description of a disease and then worry that they have the disease; this is due to the tendency of most people to give personal meaning to broad information. [Sources: 4, 12]

In psychology, this is an example of the Forer effect (also known as the Barnum effect), which indicates a tendency for people to think of descriptions of their personality as accurate, even if the descriptions are so vague that they apply to many people. The Barnum effect in psychology, also known as the Forer effect, is when a person believes that personality descriptions apply specifically to him, for example, by reading his horoscope in the newspaper and realizing that it is surprisingly accurate. The Barnum effect, also called the Forer effect in psychology, is a phenomenon that occurs when people believe that personality descriptions apply to them (more than to other people), despite the fact that the description is actually full of information that applicable to all. In simple terms, the Barnum effect refers to our tendency to think that the information provided about our personality concerns us, regardless of its generalization. [Sources: 4, 6, 9, 11]

The Barnum Effect explains our tendency to believe in generalized descriptions of personality and accept them as accurate descriptions of ourselves. The Barnum effect, also known as the Forer effect, refers to vague and generally positive descriptions of personality that are general in nature, but which most people find very accurate for them. His name is commonly associated with the famous showman P. T. Barnum, best known for promoting famous hoaxes and the founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The Barnum Effect stems from a phrase often attributed (perhaps erroneously) to showman P. T. Barnum that a “goof” is born every minute. [Sources: 1, 4, 10, 11]

The Barnum effect is based on the logical fallacy of appealing to vanity and authority, and uses people’s willingness to personalize flattery while believing that they come from a trusted source. In advertising, effects are often used to induce people to believe that products, services, or advertising campaigns are designed specifically for selected specific groups of people. Use this effect when writing horoscopes or fortune telling to make people feel that these predictions are made specifically for them. The Barnum effect in psychology means that people are easily deceived when reading descriptions of themselves. [Sources: 0, 5, 7]

By personality, we mean that people are different and unique. According to Forer, people are not distinguished by the existence of personal qualities, but by their relative size. The second statement describes the same characteristics, but more specifically describes the extent of its existence. [Sources: 5, 12]

It is important to understand that this effect is only valid if the statement is positive or complementary. In addition, if people think that the person conducting the assessment is a senior professional, they are more likely to accept a negative assessment of themselves. It turns out that positive reviews of them often mislead people, although the same applies to anyone else. [Sources: 3, 10]

The Barnum effect is deeply rooted in people’s propensity for flattery and the tendency to believe in seemingly authoritative sources, which means that if the statements are right, people will accept general statements and believe that they have a direct impact on them. Therefore, we can say that astrologers, fortune tellers, and wizards are good at understanding human psychology and applying the principles of the Barnum effect to their interpretations. The idea that psychics and psychics can prove the personality of the subject seems so accurate that it must be the origin of the supernatural phenomenon, but in fact it consists of general statements about the Barnum effect and can be applied to most people. [Sources: 1, 4, 8]

The conclusion drawn from this argument is that just because something seems valid and applies to your life and personality does not mean it is accurate or reliable. When you read or hear something that is strange to you, practice making the Barnum Effect checklist and let your friends know that they probably shouldn’t make important life decisions based on their sign. It is also a good idea to question the credibility of the sources you use. [Sources: 7, 9]

Derren, for example, is one of the few illusionists who focus on educating the general public about some of the techniques used to deceive them, such as the Barnum effect. They all use the Barnum Effect to convince people that the statements they make are personal to them. This suggests that horoscopes objectively do not correspond to the people they are supposed to describe, but in the event that horoscopes are labeled with zodiac signs, the Barnum effect works, when people perceive a horoscope for their own zodiac sign as corresponding to them – even though in fact it is such a bad coincidence that they could not have found it if it had not been marked with a zodiac sign. Psychologists believe this works because of a combination of the Forer effect and confirmatory biases within people. [Sources: 1, 7, 10]

Before exploring the Forer effect in detail, I understood this cognitive distortion technique, but I did not appreciate how long it has been used and how it has adapted over the years. In the next article we will look at what this effect is and why it is so effective. You may or may not have heard of the Barnum Effect, but most likely you have been a victim of it at some point in your life. The basic mechanism has been used by healers, psychics, astrologers and merchants for thousands of years. [Sources: 6, 10]

The same demonstration of Barnum has been replicated in elementary psychology students for over 50 years (Forer, 1949) and for some reason never made it into the public consciousness due to the systematic distortion of psychology in the popular media. He also works with HR managers who need to be aware of this effect during training (Stagner, 1958). This is in our Kalata textbook and should be described in all other introductory psychology books. The term was adopted after a psychologist expressed frustration with other psychologists who generally spoke of their patients7. Paul Mil saw this as negligence, especially in his practice and in relation to his patients. [Sources: 2, 5]

The Barnum effect is a cognitive bias, discovered by psychologist Bertram Forer in 1948 when he experimented with the error-proneness of personal verification. In 1948, Forer conducted a personality test on a group of students, and then based on their results to show them a detailed analysis of their personalities allegedly. Forer then asked his students to rate these statements on a scale of 0 (very low accuracy) to 5 (extremely good accuracy) based on their suitability for them. Well, the students rated the accuracy of their personal statements on average 4.3 points (out of 5 points). [Sources: 4, 7, 9]

— Slimane Zouggari


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