Barnum Effect

I trust my self-hosted blog to do better note-keeping than Twitter or Facebook. Hence reproducing this FB post by Navin Kabra here.


All of you—people who follow me on Facebook—are not average people. By the fact that you’re drawn to my posts, you automatically have self-selected. Using the Facebook API and some text processing, I did some analysis, and here are the key characteristics that I believe would describe 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.

How closely does this set of statements describe you?


Answer that question before reading further


So, that was a psychological trick. I did not do any analysis, and those statements don’t describe any of you.

The statements above are designed in such a way _everybody_ feels that the statements describe them uniquely. They’re called Forer statements or Barnum statements, and they’re are routinely used by psychics, astrologers, marketeers, psychometric/personality testing “professionals,” and other scamsters into making people feel that they are special, and are being treated specially.

Of course you are unique and special. But not like this.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia page for the Forer Effect/Barnum Effect:

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