1. Religion & Spirituality

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

The Bible and Suicide

Forer Effect
<Back to Last Page >     <Glossary Index>

 Related Terms
• skepticism


Definition: The Forer Effect, identified by psychologist B.R. Forer in experiments which his undergraduate students in 1948, happens when someone accepts some general or vague description of their personality as being unique to them, even though the exact same description would apply equally well (or equally badly) to everyone.

In his experiment, Forer gave a personality test to his students and then, without bothering to even read them, gave back a general personality analysis - the exact same one to each student, taken from a newspaper astrology column. He asked his students to rate his analysis and received an overwhelmingly positive response - his students were convinced that he could "read" their personalities. The same experiment has been performed repeatedly through the decades in a vareity of contexts, and the responses continue to be highly positive.

Why does the Forer Effect operate? Various explanations have been offered, from human gullibility to ignorance to plain wishful thinking. It does, however, seem to provided a basis for understanding people's acceptance of things like astrology, graphology, divination and other pseudosciences.

Also Known As: Barnum Effect, personal validation effect, subjective validation effect

Alternate Spellings: none

Common Misspellings: none

Related Resources:

What is Atheism?
The definition of atheism causes many people problems. Too often, people have the wrong idea of what atheism really is and what atheists really beleive.

What is Agnosticism?
Misunderstandings about agnosticism are just as frequent as misunderstandings about atheism.

<Back to Last Page>     <Glossary Index>
  1. About.com
  2. Religion & Spirituality
  3. Agnosticism & Atheism

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.