Accepting personality test feedback: A review of the Barnum effect
- 1.1k Downloads
This article attempts a comprehensive and critical review of the by-now fairly extensive literature on the Barnum effect—the approval/acceptance by subjects of bogus personality interpretations supposedly derived from standard tests. Since the last major review eight years ago various methodological extensions have occurred and various rival hypotheses for established findings have been proposed. The present review is divided into three major sections: client and clinician characteristics; feedback statements and test format; and implications for personality assessment and measurement. Nearly 50 studies on the acceptance of personality interpretations are systematically reviewed and criticized.
KeywordsPersonality Assessment Personality Feedback Current Psychological Research Personality Interpretation Personality Description
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Baillargeon, J., & Danis, C. (1984). Barnum meets the computer: A critical test.Journal of Assessment, 48, 415–419.Google Scholar
- Furnham, A., Borovoy, A., & Henley, S. (1986). Type A behavior pattern, the recall of positive personality information, and self-evaluation.British Journal of Medical Psychology, in press.Google Scholar
- Greene, R.L., Baucom, D.H., & Macon, R.S. (1980). Students’ acceptance of high and low generalized personality interpretations.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 36, 166–170.Google Scholar
- Snyder, C.R., Larsen, D.K., & Bloom, L.J. (1976). Acceptance of personality interpretations prior to and after receiving diagnostic feedback supposedly based on psychological, graphological and astrological assessment procedures.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 32, 258–265.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Snyder, C.R., & Shenkel, R.J. (1975). Astrologers, handwriting analysts, and sometimes psychologists use the P.T. Barnum effect.Psychology Today, March, 52–54.Google Scholar
- Tyson, G. (1982b). Why people perceive horoscopes as being true: A review.Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 35, 186–188.Google Scholar