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.
Photo courtesy of Freepik / 照片：Freepik提供
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.
The humble baguette — the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world — is being added to the UN’s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. The French staple has been deemed eligible to join UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage” list, an award given to practices or traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. It includes rituals, performing arts, traditional crafts, and specific food dishes. UNESCO, which is part of the UN, said in a statement on Wednesday last week that baguettes held cultural importance given the “artisanal know-how” needed to
2022年的世界盃在卡達開踢了！運動賽事是外國人茶餘飯後的閒談（small talk）話題中常見的主題，若是想和外國友人或是客戶聊世足的話，學會關於世足賽的常見英文用法絕對不會錯，還可以從中掌握TOEIC測驗關鍵字！ 什麼是FIFA？ FIFA就是法語中國際足球聯盟（The Federation Internationale de Football Association）的簡稱，如果不會說法文，也可以用英文International Federation of Association Football來表達，或單純叫做FIFA就好。如果想要和朋友討論今年的FIFA，後方不管有沒有加上英文字World Cup都可以，但最完整的說法就是FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022，也可以直接說FIFA 2022，一般有關注比賽的人都會立刻知道你的意思。 A: Which team are you supporting in the 2022 FIFA World Cup? （2022世界盃，你支持哪一隊？） B: I always support the host nation in every World Cup. （每次世界盃我總是支持主辦國。） 舉辦host、take place？ 舉辦比賽最常聽到兩種動詞用法，那就是host跟take place。若要簡單地區分，就是「人或主辦國」host（主辦）比賽，和「比賽本身」發生（take place）在特定的時間點。 Qatar will be hosting the FIFA 2022 starting from Nov. 20 this year. （卡達將於今年11月20日起，主辦2022年世足賽。） The FIFA 2022 is scheduled to take place from Nov. 20 in Qatar. （2022世足賽預定於11月20日於卡達開打。） 另外，在一般商業的會議中，舉辦也都會使用這兩組字，而且泛用性很廣，請務必學會運用。 The Annual Conference on Innovation is going to take place next week in Taipei. （年度創新會議將於下週在台北舉辦。） It’s an honor for my university to host the convention. （能舉辦大會，是本大學的榮幸。） 談論比賽、勝負 如果你有觀看運動比賽的習慣，相信你也會注意到幾個和比賽相關的英文單字，例如：competition、contest、game、match、tournament。若翻查字典，你會發現這些字其實都被歸類在同義字的範圍，因為這些字的意義大部分是重疊的。雖然這些字都有比賽的意思，但是後面的這三者，卻是在FIFA中最常用到的三個字。game廣義地用於各式各樣的球類運動競賽中，例如：baseball game、basketball game、volleyball game、tennis game等。 A: Did you see the basketball game
Beethoven: Energy-saving music 「貝多芬」讓你開車更省電！ Nowadays, many people are trying to lead more energy-efficient lives to protect the environment. One particularly useful thing people can do is purchase an electric car. Most people are aware that electric cars are far more energy-efficient than traditional fuel-burning cars. However, __1__ they may not realize is that once they have bought an electric car, the music they listen to while driving also affects their energy consumption. An experiment __2__ by a South Korean car manufacturer in 2022 invited a number of drivers to drive their new electric cars. The company asked the drivers, who were all new to electric
As you wander along the promenade that follows the Singapore River, you peer into the distance and catch a glimpse of a mysterious creature. As you move closer, you realize this glorious white monument is not quite a lion and not exactly a mermaid. With the head of a lion and the body of a fish, this magnificent statue is none other than the Merlion. Standing erect on the pier of Merlion Park, with massive skyscrapers in the background, the Merlion has become synonymous with Singapore. The Merlion was devised in 1964 by Alec Fraser-Brunner for the Singapore Tourism Board with