Annotated Links

Barnum Effect Explained Read more about the Barnum Effect, sometimes called the "Forer Effect" after it's discoverer.

The Cold Reading Technique Denis Dutton explains the cold reading technique, the Barnum Effect, and analyzes a spirit medium's performance, in this paper originally printed in (1988) Experientia, Volume 44, 326-332.

James Randi Explains the Art of Cold Reading Alleged psychics use the cold reading to impress an audience and gain their trust. However, when put to the test, as skeptic, magician, and challenger of paranormal claims James Randi has done, their abilities are more art than science.

Assignments, Exercises, and Activities

Barnum Effect Feedback Take this test to remind yourself why good personality tests should provide specific feedback...and why horoscopes are so much fun! See also this explanation of the Barnum Effect.

Electronic Texts

Examples and Illustrations

Lecture Notes

Slide Presentations

Tests, Measures, and Scales

Audio and Video

The Barnum Effect John Stossel, co-anchor of the ABC news program 20/20, questions the accuracy of astrology, and amazes an audience with a demonstration of how false astrology readings are believable when they include general statements that could apply to anybody (2 minutes, 24 seconds).

Derren Brown on Astrology The British illusionist, mentalist, and skeptic Derren Brown conducts a demonstration with audiences in the UK, US, and Spain, to illustrate how the Barnum Effect can lead people to believe psychic readings (8 minutes, 24 seconds).


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