Barnum Effect

The Barnum Effect is when people believe that vague and general statements about their personality or behaviour are accurate and personal to them. E.g. Horoscopes

Named after PT Barnum

The Barnum Effect is a psychological phenomenon where individuals tend to believe vague and general statements about their personality or behavior that could apply to anyone, known as "Barnum statements," as accurate and personal to them. These statements are often presented in the form of personality assessments, horoscopes, fortune-telling, or other forms of divination.

The Barnum Effect is named after the famous American showman and circus owner (and a complete exploitative douchebag), P.T. Barnum, who reportedly used these types of statements to convince people that his performances were personalized for them.

The Barnum Effect can occur because people tend to focus on the parts of the statement that they feel are true about themselves and ignore the parts that do not apply to them. Additionally, people often have a general desire to feel understood and validated, making them more likely to accept statements that seem personalized to them, even if they are not.

The Barnum Effect has been widely studied and has implications in various fields, including psychology, marketing, and even criminal investigations. It highlights the importance of critical thinking and skepticism when evaluating personality assessments, horoscopes, or other forms of divination that claim to provide personalized insights into an individual's life.