Barnum Effect ~ how do you know that!
Ever had a this eerie feeling of “How do you know so much about my personality!” within a few minutes of meeting a total stranger at a business or casual meeting? Chances are, that you just had a cold reading with seemingly harmless statements, which probably poked a hole in your generally calm and composed demeanor.
Barnum Effect was a coin termed by American Psychologist Paul Meehl in his essay “Wanted – A Good Cookbook”, where he uses vague personality descriptions which probably relate to just about everyone, but makes the listener feel its customized to him/her.
Check out the following statements and give them a rating of 1 to 5 (very much matching your personal view).
You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage.
While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them.
At times, you have serious doubts whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.
You have a strong need for other people to like you and for them to admire you.
Deep down you know your self-worth. But you have a tendency to be too critical of yourself
Disciplined and controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside.
You prefer a certain amount of change and variety, and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations
You are generally very nice, but when someone breaks your trust, you feel a deep sense of injustice that you have difficulty letting go of.
You are highly selective of your friends, and very picky about who you have relationships with, although you have a wide range of acquaintances.
There is someone in your life whose words hurt you, and you regularly think about cutting contact with them.
You are a daydreamer. Oftentimes you find yourself tuning out of conversations because your mind is somewhere of your own creation.
You love/trust/make friends easily, but because of your fear of rejection you sometimes find yourself unintentionally sabotaging your new relationships.
You have a particularly large fear of rejection. And you worry that this has limited your experiences in life.
You don’t like to be told what to do. And because of that, you often find yourself secretly rebelling against people in authority.
You often have great ideas that you just never have the motivation to follow through on.
At times, you are extroverted and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary and closed-off.
You have creative abilities that you aren’t always able to indulge in, and that bothers you fairly often.
You get anxious in social situations, and because of that you often feel people get the wrong impression about you.
You are an independent thinker. you like to check out claims for yourself before you believe what someone tells you.
You would rather mediate between two arguing parties, than take sides.
How did it go? On an average, most people score 4.2 or higher. Which means, most of the statements above are more or less applicable to us. But then, didn’t we feel that these statements were quite personal to us?
Research also says that, these statements will have a greater impact if
If the person making these statements is someone you trust and respect (an authoritarian figure / an expert)
If the statements are positive things about you and not an attack on you.
If you believe that this test and statements are customized personally for you, and are not generic. We all like to believe we are special, don’t we 🙂
An expert can also read from your body language and adapt the statements, add someth key word you can relate to and make these even more enticing.
So, the next time you come across these, take a breath, be amazed, smile and move on! don’t be overwhelmed.