Have you ever read your horoscope and thought the predictions were extraordinarily accurate? If so, you’ve experienced the “Barnum effect,” also called the “Forer effect.” This psychological phenomenon refers to the tendency of people to believe that vague, general statements are specific descriptions of themselves.
The Barnum effect works exceptionally well for positive statements, as most people’s egos enjoy praise and reject criticism. It’s named after American businessman P.T. Barnum, who’s strongly associated with the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” This declaration conveys humans’ gullible nature and desire to believe the good things they’re told about themselves.
This common cognitive bias was demonstrated through an experiment conducted by American professor Bertram R. Forer in 1948. His students completed individual personality surveys and were told that they would be analyzed and custom feedback would be returned. Most students evaluated the feedback quality as very accurate. However, Forer had given each student the exact same results! General statements like: “You have a great need for people to like and admire you” and “You have a tendency to be critical of yourself” applied to almost everyone.
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We’re used to identifying universally valid statements in astrology and fortune telling, but where else can we see the Barnum effect? Digital platforms like Netflix and Spotify generate content recommendations on our profile. These are partly based on our user history, but they’re also general lists suggested for many users at the same time. However, we’re more likely to consume content when we think it’s personally selected for us!
To avoid being deceived by the Barnum effect, be aware that it’s happening and stay skeptical. Look for specific statements, not general ones. While being fooled may sometimes be harmless, avoiding being manipulated by the Barnum effect can help prevent us from making decisions that may not be rational or wise.
cognitive adj. 認知的；感知的
horoscope n. 星座運勢；星相
ego n. 自尊心；自我評價
sucker n. 傻瓜；易受騙的人
gullible adj. 容易受騙的；輕信的
astrology n. 占星術；占星學
skeptical adj. 懷疑的
1. bias n. 偏見；偏差
The judge was dismissed after he was proved unable to set aside his personal biases.
2. psychological adj. 心理(學)的
The lawyer questioned the man about his psychological state at the time of the crime.
3. phenomenon n. 現象(複數 phenomena)
It was a great experience to witness the phenomenon of the Northern Lights.
4. exceptionally adv. 特別地；異常地
When her husband started acting exceptionally sweet, Reina got suspicious that he’d done something wrong.
5. criticism n. 批評；批判
Although he didn’t show it in the meeting, Zeke’s client’s harsh criticism really hurt his feelings.
6. demonstrate v. 證明；顯示
The results of the experiment demonstrated that crows and ravens are very intelligent birds.
7. feedback n. 回饋意見
All of the students in this writing class will receive immediate feedback on their stories.
8. universally adv. 普遍地；一般地
The clock in London’s Elizabeth Tower is universally known as Big Ben.
9. manipulate vt. 操縱；控制
Pauline likes to manipulate her friends to get what she wants.
A request by the World Health Organization (WHO) for more information on a surge in respiratory illnesses and clusters of pneumonia in children in China has attracted global attention. Health authorities have not detected any unusual or novel pathogens, the WHO later said, and doctors and public health researchers say there is no reason for international alarm. Authorities in Taiwan, however, last week advised the elderly, very young and those with poor immunity to avoid travel to China. The following is what we know about the surge in illness in the world’s second most populous country so far, and why experts think there
Have you ever wondered about the odd name “eggplant” or heard of its bizarre nickname, the “mad apple”? The tales behind these names are just as unusual as the vegetable’s appearance. The name “eggplant” dates back to the 18th century. It wasn’t inspired by the familiar long, purple type we often see and enjoy in Taiwan. Instead, it was a unique variety, which was small, egg-shaped and white, that earned it its name. While the British were in India, this particular form caught their attention. It prompted them to adopt the term “eggplant.” Even though new eggplant varieties in
A: People magazine just named actor Patrick Dempsey 2023 Sexiest Man Alive, while American football brothers Travis and Jason Kelce took the first and second spots in the sexiest athlete category. B: Isn’t Travis Kelce Taylor Swift’s boyfriend? I didn’t know that her boyfriend’s so hot. A: And this year, Korean soccer player Son Heung-min was No. 8. B: Were there any other Asian athletes on the list? A: Your favorite Japanese baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani also made it to No. 15. A: 《時人》雜誌最近公布，男星派翠克丹普西是今年全球最性感男人，美式足球明星T.凱爾西和他哥哥J.凱爾西，則包辦最性感運動員冠亞軍。 B: T.凱爾西不就是天后泰勒絲的男友嗎？原來她的男友那麼帥。 A: 韓國足球明星孫興慜今年也在第8名。 B: 還有哪些亞洲運動員有上榜呢？ A: 你最愛的日本棒球明星大谷翔平排在第15名。 （By Eddy Chang, Taipei Times／台北時報張聖恩）
對話 Dialogue 小實：馬克，你下個月回美國可以幫我買些東西嗎？ Xiǎoshí: Mǎkè, nǐ xià ge yuè huí Měiguó kěyǐ bāng wǒ mǎixiē dōngxi ma? 馬克：可以啊！你要買「維他命」嗎？ Mǎkè: Kěyǐ a! Nǐ yāomǎi “wéitāmìng” ma? 小實：哈哈，是啊！你怎麼知道我要買維生素？ Xiǎoshí: Haha, shì a! Nǐ zěnme zhīdào wǒ yào mǎi wéishēngsù? 馬克：現在大家很重視健康，所以我常常幫朋友買。 Mǎkè: Xiànzài dàjiā hěn zhòngshì jiànkāng, suǒyǐ wǒ chángcháng bāng péngyǒu mǎi 小實：嗯！在臺灣買這些保健食品都比較貴。 Xiǎoshí: En! Zài Táiwān mǎi zhèxiē bǎojiàn shípǐn dōu bǐjiào guì. 馬克：你只要買維他命嗎？葉黃素要不要？ Mǎkè: Nǐ zhǐyào mǎi wéitāmìng ma? Yèhuángsù yào bùyào? 小實：要要要！現在常常看3C螢幕，一定要保護眼睛。 Xiǎoshí: Yào yào yào! Xiànzài chángcháng kàn 3C yíngmù, yídìng yào bǎohù yǎnjīng. 馬克：不過，這些東西還是比不上真正的食物。 Mǎkè: Búguò, zhèxiē dōngxi háishì bǐ bú shàng zhēnzhèng de shíwù. 小實：平常吃得不夠營養，就只好吃保健食品了！ Xiǎoshí: Píngcháng chī de búgòu yíngyǎng, jiù zhǐhǎo chī bǎojiàn shípǐn le! 翻譯 Translation Xiaoshi: Mark, can you buy something