Friday, March 23, 2007

The Forer Effect

I like this even though i do like the odd horrorscope, like this week's one for us Melbournian Gemini's (even though i profess not to have a birthday, i'll accept a birthmonth).... yeah, it was basically about having a good, fruitful week, which, after looking back, i did have. apart from yesterday when i had to take a day off due to almost no sleep with our poor lil' toddler and her teething pains... these teeth have been coming out for ages! she has double figures now, we're only somethign like half-way, it's driving me crazy. and i know she can't be loving it. why can't we just be BORN WITH TEETH? is that too much to ask? we're not like rats and stuff that need to keep grinding their nasty teeth down on all sorts of shite. why do we have to teeth twice in life when the final ones stay the same?

anyway, that really went wayyyy off track. i should just starting blogs more often with no plan, and see what happens. this time i had a vague plan, and came across this thing called the Forer Effect. i can't remember where i got that inspiration from, or reference. i assume it was somethign i'd read or heard that i'd googled. or possibly i'm ripping off someone else's blog. if so, sorry, but then the number of ppl that read this arent' exactly warranting of any sort of concern. so, like, i guess Wikipedia is the best place for this and they say intriguing stuff like this, which i repeat for no good reason, other than slight ease and the making of this post look longer:

The Forer effect (also called personal validation fallacy or the Barnum effect after P. T. Barnum) is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. The colloquial phrase that could best be applied to describe this phenomenon to the layman is the so-called Self-fufilling prophecy. The Forer effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some pseudosciences such as astrology and fortune telling, as well as many types of personality tests.

In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a personality test to his students, and then gave them a personality analysis supposedly based on the test's results. He invited each of them to rate the analysis on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) as it applied to themselves: the average was 4.26. He then revealed that each student had been given the same analysis:

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

Forer had assembled this text from horoscopes.

and i think there's something in that for all of us.