The Barnum effect refers to personality descriptions that a person believes applies specifically to them (more so than to other people), despite the fact that the description is actually filled with information that applies to everyone. The effect means that people are gullible because they think the information is about them only, when in fact the information is generic.

History and Modern Usage

The Barnum effect came from the phrase by the circus showman P. T. Barnum who claimed a “sucker” is born every minute. Psychics, horoscopes, magicians, palm readers, and crystal ball gazers make use of the Barnum effect when they convince people that their description of them is highly special and unique and could never apply to anyone else.

The Barnum effect has been studied or ...

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