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
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