The other day I was in my garden and it was too hot and I thought it would be nice to have some kind of tent to protect me from the sun. I was in full barnum effect. But that’s not at all what we’re talking about today since we’re looking more at the Barnum effect.
Believe it or not (but believe it anyway) the barnum, this outdoor arbor owes its name to Phyneas Barnum, inventor of the modern circus to whom we owe this structure now used in many events. But we also owe him the Barnum effect because the man offered interactive shows in which he addressed the spectators by making them believe that he knew everything about them. Subsequently the psychologist Bertram Forer named this manipulation the Barnum effect.
Good, but then the Barnum effect, kézako (as free-spirited people say)?
You may not know what it means and yet you are victims of it. In a nutshell, it is a cognitive bias that consists in recognizing oneself in its own right in a very vague description (and in which anyone could recognize oneself). It can also be referred to as a set of messages that give us the impression that they are addressed to us directly. A very practical tool to manipulate your neighbor as we will see in 3… 2… 1… Zero.
1. In astrology
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If you still needed proof that astrology is a big joke, here it is. Ideal breeding ground for the Barnum effect, the pseudo-science that is astrology will actually give us the impression that your horoscope corresponds to you, whereas it is very vague and general information that could correspond to everyone.
For example, I take an extract from my daily horoscope gleaned from the astro section of Le Figaro Madame (a highly reliable source): “If you live alone, this situation will weigh on you, and you will be in the mood to fall in love. » NO KIDDING, you will recognize that a lot of people are rather in the mood to fall in love that does not mean much. As for work, I am told “You will be able to adapt with the greatest ease to new occupations and make the best possible use of people and circumstances”. You see how vague it is, how it means nothing concretely and how anyone can say “Ptin how it’s too true I feel too capable of adapting to this new stapler”.
Naturally, if it works for astrology, it works for clairvoyance which logically uses the same levers of influence to convince a person of the merits of his words. So we’re going to give you very vague information about your gender past. “I see in these cards that you were born of a father and a mother” (unless you come from an extremely woke background, you should recognize yourself in this info). Once you have gained confidence, you will be able to deliver information about yourself without realizing it, direct the scammer who claims to read your future and who will basically only tell you what you want to hear. Because the Barnum effect is that too, we tell you mostly positive things that correspond really well to your life projects like “I see that there is a problem in your life and that you will soon solve it by surpassing yourself”. OK GREAT THANK YOU COUSIN.
3. HPI diagnostics (the crap)
We recently told you about the received ideas about HPI, they are mainly due to this Barnum effect. Indeed, you will have no trouble finding the characteristics of high potential or hypersensitivity and recognizing yourself in them: empathy, curiosity, moral sense, feeling of incomprehension. So many elements in which we can largely recognize ourselves, and it is clear that we are not all HPI or hypersensitive.
Here we are on professionals of the genre like Clément Freze who talks about it very well in the podcast below Méta de Choc which as always turns our brains upside down beyond measure (ok the video lasts 1 hour, but it’s worth it). The basis of mentalism is cold reading (which has nothing to do with reading with an ice cube in your mouth): a technique of retrieving information about a person by simply observing the individual (hairstyle, clothes) and their verbal or non-verbal reactions. And I allow myself exceptionally to quote you this extract from Wikipedia concerning the subject because it made me break the waters of laughter. So this technique would be “used by salesmen, interrogators, psychologists, doctors (especially psychiatrists), politicians, hypnotists, graphologists, magicians, clairvoyants, mentalists, palmists, astrologers, cultists and swindlers “. Hard.
5. Personality tests
I hope that you have already answered one of our many personality tests (otherwise I recommend that you answer the test “Are you a redneck?”, “What dictator are you?” or even “Are you pregnant?” to learn more about yourself). If it’s already done, you will have noticed that we use the Barnum effect very little in our results since we say 99% nonsense.
On the other hand, in personality tests which are not for fun, we find the weight of the Barnum effect. For this you need several ingredients: more positive than negative sentences (you will never read in your personality test result that you are a big purulent shit), definitions that are always vague and therefore flattering (“you have full energy and you look like Bela Haddid”).
We’ll keep it simple when a politician speaks in the name of “all French people” he is right in the Barnum effect. Because to speak in the name of “all French people” you have to talk about things that “all French people” like, and that’s how we end up with politicians who say how much they are affected by poverty (who don’t wouldn’t?) and who promise to fight for purchasing power (who wouldn’t?).
7. Social networks
It is not so much that the networks are at the origin of a Barnum effect but rather that they amplify it considerably. You are not unaware that we create an information bubble on the networks: first of all because we will only see information which confirms a priori what we already think, but also because the likes and shares will tend to give credibility to what does not have any while giving us the impression that this content corresponds to us.
I hope you recognized yourself too seriously in this top.