Barnum Effect Is Named After Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

One personality profile gives "a person who likes change" as one of its assessments. Scrutinizing the statement, one will see that this is likely to apply to almost everyone. First, it does not specify in what aspect in life the person likes change, making it open to personal interpretations. Second, possibility is huge that people are likely to favor change in at least one of the aspects of their lives, given that people are dynamic by nature. Check the tool's background and be not surprised if it is not rooted on solid research ground -- validity or reliability is low, sample used was not representative of the population and standardization was not strictly applied, among others.

Beware of selective perceptions. People fall for the trap of seeing vague descriptions as accurate because of the tendency to bring it down to the personal level. However, recall of personally-relevant information is subject to the selective memory (Wittrock & Foraker, 2001). For example, hearing "at times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable," a student remembers last week at a friend's house when she was the life of the party. She also remembers that she initiated the conversation with her seatmate this morning. But she forgets the instances when she had been introverted and reserved -- which, in fact, are more. Aside from selective memory, this also shows confirmation bias, or the tendency to search for or notice information that confirms a belief and avoid those supporting otherwise (Ulrich, 2004). To avoid this, try searching deeper down memory lane; one might just find pieces of evidence disconfirming the claim of the description.

Resist flattery. Self-serving bias is one's tendency to perceive oneself favorable, no matter what the objective evidence (MacDonald & Standing, 2002). This explains why flattery is relatively hard to resist. But it is possible, only if better judgment is exercised. Scrutinize the statement. Start to wonder if the assessments are all positive things about the self. A fortune teller might 'predict' that two individuals are "soulmates," that the couple would end up in marriage and have beautiful children, and be bound to receive promotions. This is a potential indication that there is something wrong with the set-up since all the fortune-teller sees is a picture-perfect life for the couple. Would there be no impending obstacles as well?

Barnum Effect is a common tendency among us, as it facilitated by selective memory, confirmation bias, and self-serving bias among others. But we can try to be always on guard - to keep our analytical minds active at all times. It is difficult, but indeed, worth the try.

Works Cited

MacDonald, D.J. & Standing, L.G. (2002). Does Self-Serving Bias Cancel the Barnum Effect? Social Behavior and Personality, 30 (6), 625-630.

Ulrich, C. (2004). Dissecting the Process of Reasoning. Human Ecology, 32 (2), 15-19.

Wittrock, D.A. & Foraker, S.L. (2001). Tension-Type Headache and Stressful Events: The Selective Memory in Reporting of Stressors.…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

MacDonald, D.J. & Standing, L.G. (2002). Does Self-Serving Bias Cancel the Barnum Effect? Social Behavior and Personality, 30 (6), 625-630.

Ulrich, C. (2004). Dissecting the Process of Reasoning. Human Ecology, 32 (2), 15-19.

Wittrock, D.A. & Foraker, S.L. (2001). Tension-Type Headache and Stressful Events: The Selective Memory in Reporting of Stressors. The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 41(5), 482-493.

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