Let Me Tell You Your Fortune!

Welcome everyone!

I would like to try an experiment, it is very simple all you do is read the paragraph below and see if you can identify it with yourself. 

You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure 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 pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. 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, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.

How did I do?  Was it spot on?  Chances are you were able to relate to this fortune or personality test to yourself.    What you just read was the result of a personality test that was administered in 1948 by psychologist Bertram Forer.  Forer would give his students a personality test to his students and totally disregard their answers.  After the test was finished Forer would tell the students that they would receive a personality analysis unique to each student.  When the students received the analysis they were then asked to give it a rating from 0-5, 0 being worst and 5 being excellent.

However the students didn’t receive a unique analysis, they all received the same exact evaluation, which is what you just read above.  Interestingly enough in 1948 the average rating was 4.26.  Today this test is still administered in colleges throughout the world; it has been repeated hundreds of times with an average rating of 4.2 out of 5. 

Forer assembled his paragraph from a bunch of different horoscopes.  He did this to show that people have a tendency to rate sets of statements as extremely accurate to them even though the statements could apply to many people.  This is now called the Forer effect.  This effect can actually explain why certain people believe in things like astrology, tarot, fortune telling, etc.    

There are also 3 things that help influence this effect.

  • If the subject believes that the analysis only applies to them
  • If the subject believes in the authority of the person doing the evaluating or administering the test
  • The analysis lists mainly positive traits

If these 3 factors are in play, people usually give higher accuracy ratings. 

Thanks for reading Pork Rhine.

Resources:

http://www.skepdic.com/forer.html

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