Millions of people every day read the horoscope on the internet, magazines and newspapers or watch it on television. Others end up paying thousands of dollars to seers, astrologers and sorcerers to guess the future; and although it has not been scientifically proven that horoscopes and fortune-tellers tell the truth, more and more people believe in them, read them and follow them. Let’s talk about the Forer Effect that shows that horoscopes are a scam.
What is the Forer effect?
In 1948 the renowned psychologist Bertram Forer designed an experiment to be applied to his students, consisting of a personality test with very simple questions, such as: What color do you like? What is your favorite music? What is your zodiacal sign? Etc. At the end of the test Dr. Forer gave his students the test results after a while, leaving everyone impacted by the precision that the doctor had achieved in defining their personalities.
It is estimated that more than 90% of the students said that the result of the test described almost perfectly their personalities, but what they did not know was that the real experiment was to give everyone a copy of the same personality description, i.e. they all received the same document and the result was the same for everyone, only they did not know it.
With this, Doctor Bertram Forer wanted to measure the reaction of a diverse number of people to a generic response and the hypothesis was that most of them would adapt their personality to the answer given by the doctor, being clear in the end that the hypothesis was fulfilled people had assumed the generic description as personnel and identified with it.
How to use the Forer effect?
So, how is it possible that people having different personalities from one another can almost all agree that a generic text describes them in their personality? The simple answer is due to several factors:
The first factor is the confidence in the person who applies the test, in the case of Doctor Forer it was evident that his students trusted him and were willing to participate in his “personality test“, therefore, upon receiving the results it is assumed as true and the brain seeks to adapt it to its own personality. This is called the effect of authority, that is, if a friend or a relative had applied the test to them, perhaps they would not have felt so identified with the results.
The second factor is that the results express affirmations that contain negative elements vs. positive elements, which makes the person identify with some, separating them usually with the time factor, let’s see an example of this type of generic response:
“Sometimes you are sociable and extroverted, but at other times you are very reserved and cautious “.
If we look at both, they are totally contradictory but the key is to use the word “Sometimes” which makes the person who reads it identify with some of them, since it is very likely that it is extroverted or reserved.
The third factor is the number of positive arguments that enumerate the result vs. the negative arguments, in this case whenever content lists more positive than negative propositions; the person who reads it ends up associating it with himself and his personality. For this purpose it is called the Fallacy of Personal Validation or one of the logical fallacies.
When these 3 factors are met and the person who applies the Test is a person of authority, the result will be a group of people who end up believing that the results expressed in these generic statements almost exactly describe their personality and that it was achieved only with answer simple questions such as: What is your hair color?
Horoscopes and the Forer Effect
It is very common to hear people say that this week’s horoscope was right in what he said would happen to him, that warned him this or that, that allowed him to make a decision covered in what the stars tell him, but as we have seen there is a trap behind all this and it is the Forer Effect that is the best example of the logical fallacies known.
Why not believe in astrology?
Due to all that we have already explained of the Forer effect, it is possible to define what the horoscopes write as a scam, protected by the effect of personal validation that produces in humans the fact that the texts containing these predictions of the future are generic, contradictory or contradictory statements and with a greater number of positive elements, in addition to having the endorsement of a famous psychic who is the one who generates authority or trust.
Let’s see this example:
This is the horoscope on October 12 for the Gemini sign of the Univision chain on its Web portal:
Let’s analyze it:
- The authority is exercised by the Univisión television chain, a well-known company that predisposes us to trust its claims unconsciously.
- In the title we see a generic statement using the magic word: Maybe. With this they say to your brain: If it happens we hit it right and if it does not happen it was just a “maybe” so it does not matter, I trust him. In addition to the fact itself of the phrase: that something happens is almost 100% likely to people every day and that makes them change their mind, because every day we make decisions based on events.
- From the content under the photo we can say that if you count the positive things that say about what will happen to you, they are more than the warnings about negative things, there is injected the Forer effect.
No one is immune to being a victim of those who take advantage of the Forer effect to cheat, we are all exposed daily to advertising, horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc. .; people who seek to capture our attention with some commercial purpose and who play with our minds to try to believe what they want us to believe. The best way to combat this is to be very alert and analyze very well the things that the magazines tell us, the TV and now the internet.
Do not believe in horoscopes, you do it yourself, nothing is written. Share this article on your social networks if you found it interesting, so we will help many to open the eyes of the mind.
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