Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Forer Effect

Read the following passage, and rate out of 5 how accurately it describes you:

You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.

Does it fit your personality quite closely? Interestingly, in a study of 150 university students, the average score given was 4.26 out of 5. This is actually composed of pieces of horoscopes by the psychologist Bertram R. Forer, who studied the psychology of horoscopes. As one could see (on retrospect), the above paragraph involves many sentences that would fit almost everyone.

It is through these broad yet somehow specific-sounding statements and the human psychology that the words describe exactly who they are that allow horoscopes and fortune tellers to gain such a profit.

Zodiac by Alphone Mucha (1869)

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