Barnum effect

“Forer” redirects here. For people with the surname, see Forer (surname).

The Barnum effect, also called the Forer effect, or less commonly, the Barnum-Forer effect, is a common psychological phenomenon whereby individuals give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to them, that are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.[1] This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some paranormal beliefs and practices, such as astrologyfortune tellingaura reading, and some types of personality tests.[1][2]

These characterizations are often used by practitioners as a con-technique to convince victims that they are endowed with a paranormal gift. Because the assessment statements are so vague, people interpret their own meaning, thus the statement becomes “personal” to them. Also, individuals are more likely to accept negative assessments of themselves if they perceive the person presenting the assessment as a high-status professional. The term “Barnum effect” was coined in 1956 by psychologist Paul Meehl in his essay Wanted – A Good Cookbook, because he relates the vague personality descriptions used in certain “pseudo-successful” psychological tests to those given by showman P. T. Barnum


Self-generation affect effect

“If we figured it out ourselves, we like it better”

The self-generation affect effect (or the ‘not invented here – bias’ as people like Dan Ariely phrase it) is the cognitive version of the physical labor-love effect (also termed the IKEA effect). Not only does physical effort increase liking, but it also works just as well for cognitive effort… We tend to like ideas and information better when they’ve been generated by our own mind (instead of ideas that we read or hear from someone else). Even if people invest just a small amount of cognitive energy in an idea or solution, they like it much more. Not only do we like our own ideas better, but we remember them better too, see: self-generation memory effect).

Because of the self-generation affect effect, we become overly committed to our own ideas. So if you want your customer to remember and like your product, an effective strategy might be to have him generate the information himself (or parts of it).

Lego very successfully employs this tactic with their LEGO ideas product line.

Scientific research example:

Imagine that you’re thinking about solutions to the problem of water waste, specifically how communities can reduce the amount of water they use. Suddenly, Dan Ariely materializes out of thin air. He’s here to help you. He hands you a paper with 50 words, and you’re instructed to combine these words to come up with a solution. You try it, and it works! You come up with the following idea: ‘Water lawns using recycled water recovered from household drains’.

In reality, this is the one and only solution you can create from the 50 words (in that sense it’s not your idea, it’s Dan’s idea that you pieced together). Will this cognitive effort boost your liking for this solution? Ariely found that it will indeed(2010, p. 116)! You’ll like this idea more than other ideas simply because your brain generated it and put effort in it (Dan even found that just giving you the 10 words to form the sentence already boosts your liking for the idea).

How I like to think about Fogg Behavior Model (FBM)

Motivation: I use FBM to decide how much information people need before asking them to take action. I assess the motivation that I’ve built with the copy that came before I ask them to buy/sign up/click, and the button copy itself – is this motivating or not?

Ability: Is the form easy to fill out? Is it easy to buy? How can I make it easier?

Trigger: I like to think of headlines and calls to action as triggers. Are they compelling? Are they visible, high in the visual hierarchy?

Supplemental reading: Fogg Behavior Model website

Online persuasion tips:

  • Put the focus on only a few (a max of three) USP’s.
  • Emphasize your most unique USP so intensely that your customers lose focus on less favorable aspects.
  • Don’t just focus on your best aspects, but also on those that differ significantly from your competitors.
  • Also, emphasize the huge change that happens the moment people buy your product or use your service.

Desired behavior happens when motivation, ability, and trigger converge

In order to boost conversions, you need to

  • help people do what they already want to do,
  • tap into the right motivators,
  • understand the types of motivation,
  • make taking action as easy as possible,
  • focus on simplification,
  • put hot triggers on the path of motivated people,
  • and generally obsess about triggers like your business depended on it.

The Innovation

The innovation is all about experimentation. It is fun doing with real thinking and art of learning can be achieved or enhanced through the actual feeling. Although we do not realize this concept and do not like to pursue it. The humble beginning can begin just like putting ourselves into the shoes of a baby. We have a few things around us and jump on experimentation. The prototyping briefly is also the step toward our design enhancement. How to solve a problem in hand? The true achievement is through start from the basic and and then gradually to reach to a point where our industry’s problems have plateaued out. Working in team specially with friends where we trust and we develop a sense of togetherness and belonging, and grow the friendship into a bigger group of working on ideas and we will genuinely develop a long term relationship and partnership to always come up with wonderful ideas in a short time span. It is fun to develop a symbol of creativity for every organization. For example in the video by Tim shows how the Pixar, where the animators  work in wooden huts and decorated caves. Some wacky ideas or symbols for creativity inspires a lot of ideas and people enter the office with positive frame of mind. It should not be boring , but it should be entertaining. That symbol has to change every six months and through challenge to the team. Other example some great library’s are so symbolic that it literary inspires us to go and be creative or read something meaningful and do inspire us to explore our thoughts. The permissive environment in any organization explores different avenues of thoughts and it characterizes one with freedom. 

Every organization should have a creativity test. For example 30 circle test to draw any object in it with in 40 seconds, this explores how fast we are in our thinking process. This takes us too new journey of creativity. For example a Washmen company in Dubai has an idea to disrupt a traditional industry by connecting customers directly to the service provider, cutting out middlemen and the only facility in Dubai have fully integrated and technology sound cameras to track each an every cloth  during the process. A lot of people think in their mind but to bring in practicality and taking the project forward it needs patients and perseverance. 

Building a learning relationship by closely involving partners and stepping into each others shoes. Use relationship and cultivate trust among the team members in different perspective and drive bold turns in the work. 

When ideas move forward through  cycle of trust and fearless creativity, they will gain momentum and can be launch sooner in the market than we think.