Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Barnum Effect: People Will Believe About Anything

People will believe about anything as long as it says something good about them. Yes, absolutely anything and it doesn’t matter if it is at all true.

It’s called the Barnum Effect, a psychology phenomena, whereby people will tend to accept general and vague characteristics as personalized and very much accurate.

This is how the world of astrology and horoscopes is so successful. All horoscopes definitely have positive traits and most importantly they are always very general and vague. Who doesn’t want to know that he/she is intuitive, creative, logical, courageous and understanding? If you open up a book of horoscopes and read the traits of any sign, you will find that all horoscopes’ characteristics can be applicable to you plus or minus some traits that you will disagree on. I am sure there are some traits you disapprove of on your current horoscope or am I wrong?

It’s not only horoscopes that people will always love to learn about and believe but also palm readings, psychics, personality tests and the endless online quizzes. Why do you think everybody likes to take those quizzes? It’s because the answer is always right! Not that the quiz is created by a genius or anything, but generally the answer is very general and rewarding that will fit to most of the general population and most of all make them happy.

So, what’s the harm in reading some positive things about us? After all, it can just boost the ego and improve the self esteem. Well, yeah. Some might look at it this way. However, some people are gullible enough to pass the praise phase of the positive rewarding general vague characteristics that they have perceived as accurate and become true believers of the whole thing. Once they become believers they tend to intercept the negative traits as extremely exact and this is when the real trouble begins.

Now we know why those concepts are highly successful and receive a lot of attention despite the lack support of strong scientific evidence. Simply, people will believe about anything as long as it’s rewarding.  
Image Credits to Photographer: Filomena Scalise

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