Barnum effect

We think that vague and generic personality descriptions that can apply to a lot of people are very accurate and made specifically for them. This is how astrology, fortune telling and some personality tests work.

These type of statements are called Barnum Statements...

  1. You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.
  2. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself.
  3. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage.
  4. ...

The effect is stronger if...

  1. You believe that the statements are made specifically for you
  2. You believe in the authority of the person making the statements.
  3. The statements are mainly positive


Self-Serving bias can cancel Barnum Effect.