The (Forer)- Barnum Effect

Before I start talking about the Barnum effect, let me tell you that I know a lot about you. Allow me to talk about you!

– You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.

– You have a tendency to be critical of yourself.

– You have a great deal of unused potential, which you have not turned to your advantage.

– While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.

– Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you.

– Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the  inside.

– At times, you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.

– You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations.

– You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof.

– You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others.

–  At times, you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved.

–  Security is one of your major goals in life.

–  Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic.

Can you find yourself in the text above? Yes? Well, you’re not the only person in this situation. All those who read the text find themselves to a lesser or greater degree.

This is the Barnum (Forer) effect.

The Forer (or Barnum) effect is a term used in psychology that defines the tendency of people to accept very general or vague characterizations of themselves as being very accurate.

A good example of this can be seen in people who think they are true and exactly match descriptions of those who guess them in coffee, tarot, astrological predictions or other bizarre practices.

“A sucker is born every minute,” said Phineas Taylor Barnum, the discoverer of the circus, and the one after whom this effect was called.

In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a number of 39 students a personality test, then asked them to assess the degree of veracity of the profile described. Students evaluated the accuracy of their own personality profile on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 was considered a profile that did not correspond to any of their own personalities, and 5 had a perfect correspondence with their own personality. The average of these ratings was 4.2. Then students were asked to raise their hands if the test was considered to be an appropriate and accurate tool in describing their own personality. All students raised their hand, being convinced of the veracity of the instrument. They later found out that they had the same interpretation.

The Barnum effect has some explanations. According to researchers, it seems that, first of all, we like flattering and discourses that value us. Then, often, we do not perceive in an analysis anything other than that which suits us or favors us. Thus, we abstain from elements that do not characterize us, although they are mentioned. The effect also increases when people think they have a particular description made for them, when the description is more favorable than unfavorably, when the description is not specific, and the characteristics and traits mentioned are common in the population from which they were selected as subjects. All these features are met when the horoscope is presented to us. We do not even have to be careful to see which sign is coming. Anyway, all the signs fit us.

The effect of Barnum is a technique that is also the basis of palm reading, predictions, and other forms of past or predictive predictions.

Those who claim to have paranormal powers exploit this technique along with cold reading, a set of techniques by which relevant information is obtained by general assertions, by observing body language and subject’s reactions.

This effect appears to a greater extent in the case of people with a particular need for approval or tendencies of obedience, conformism to authority. Those are people who take things as they are, because they can not do anything anyway, things are predestined to be so. The truth is, no matter how unique we are, we have the same quests, the same dilemmas and the same cognitive viruses.

In order not to let this effect deceive us, I think it is important to keep in mind Forer’s words:

“Thus, the individual is a unique configuration of characteristics, each of which can be found in everyone, but in varying degrees.”

54 ways…?! :)

According to a site, there are 54 ways you can become happier. You can choose and try any of them. I have a book with hundreds of ways for happiness. Honestly (and insensible) I find it almost useless.
It seems amazing to me how people are looking for happiness (going to workshops and conferences and paying big amounts of money, but also efforts and time), despite some knowledge (scientifically validated) that warns us of the futility of this quest.
Many don´t want to know that a garbage collector from Calcutta (a city in the West Bengal, close to the Bangladesh border) might be happier than an IBM CEO, proud owner, of Range Rover, a personal assistant (milky and sprint), villa owner and a holiday home in the most luxurious places …
The garbage collector and CEO, or senator and butcher, can be both happy on the same level because happiness is not what most people think it is. On the contrary, it requires effort, dedication, and commitment.
How many of us are willing to do this? It involves frustration, it has nothing to do with today’s happiness or the immediate satisfaction of wishes, it requires regular efforts aimed at goals, concentration, and patience, plus an expanded perspective in the future. As I think I said once before, it is also called  eudaimonic well-being (from daimon – true nature).
Daimon refers to potentialities of each person, realisation of which leads to the greatest fulfilment. Efforts to live in accordance with one’s daimon, the congruence between this and people’s life activities, lead to the experience of eudaemonia…
And what if your true nature is calling you to violence? ( it can happen to anyone).  Well about this topic, and other kinds of more hedonistic happiness on another occasion. 🙂

Until then, if you see Aristotle, please send him, my greetings! 🙂


Envy… A common feeling…

We all feel envy. It’s a spontaneous thought. Envy is an absolutely normal feeling that occurs when, involuntarily or not, we relate ourselves to others and find that they have something we lack.
To be envious is basically to react to the discovery of your disadvantage, to someone who looks like you, but apparently unfavorable, it benefits from superior qualities or circumstances.
The woman is genetically envious. Ethology, the science of animal and human behavior, have shown that human envy is a consequence of competition for primary needs: food, water, air, and reproduction, including sexuality. Any object of our envy is included in the desire, to be advantageous.
Feminine envy, in the historical past of the primitive man, had even the role of the physical elimination of opponents who were targeting a strong man, so capable of giving birth to surviving children in great conditions. Envy it is, therefore, extremely intense, having an inherited base, and is particularly aggressive against women who seem to pose a threat through superiority or the advantage of circumstances.
The woman of today is genetically as envious as the woman from 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, and envy is the feeling that pushes her into a competition, usually against other women. Women gossip and men hit. Unlike men, envy, it causes women to hit the competitor’s image. The most frequent phenomena are rumor and intrigue, as premeditated attitudes of defamation of the envious one, engages affective involvement and even strategies of the annihilation of ” The Ingrate” ! 😤
Ladies, calm down!  emotional instability transform any woman into a “drama queen”! ))

“unconcious memoirs”

Every encounter, any interaction we have with a person, with a human, leaves us “unconscious memoirs”, which determine our later dislikes and sympathies. We put people on an imaginary pedestal, or we subcategorize them with nonchalance because we “feel” it. What we actually feel are our prejudices based on our hopes or anxieties.
The mind works through associations. We associate our perceptions with emotions.
Most of our memories are forming a threshold of awareness, in our minds “less conscious.” Intuition is actually the expression of this information subconsciously stored.

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“normal madness”

You can have “normal madness.” No one will notice, we all have it, because we are all the same. Just don’t cross the border of this kind of “normal madness” status. You will be declared crazy at that very time.
– And, who establishes this border? 
– Well, other people with “normal madness.”
The difference between craziness and normality is only of degree, not of quality. The differences in status don’t have any value. You are always at the border; a little thought and it can push you beyond what is considered normal
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Although to be honest to myself, :)) I think the most interesting people are the ones you can suspect for an amount of insanity. Or better said those people who can go mad at any time, not because the genetic background predisposes them, but rather because the intensity of their experiences leads them more quickly to the edge of their understanding.
The evolution of psychology in the deciphering of psychological mechanisms may eventually lead to humble acceptance that, in fact, madness, despair, contradiction, paradox, and obsession are the basic traits of man. The human, the “organism” that has surpassed his animalistic condition and opened his/her eyes to a metaphorical, symbolic world, with social agreements, meant to straighten millions of years living on the unconscious.

 

the color of happiness…

With a bit of luck and humor, each of us has at least one pair of glasses with pink lenses in his/her wardrobe. Ideal would be to have two pairs in case you often match your purse with the color of your shoes, or you are the happy owner of a blonde secretary with intense and assumed concupiscence that you have to calm down on the full moon nights. 🙂

Glasses with pink lenses help us see life in pink shades. However, when we dare to put down these glasses, real life gets different nuances from the full spectrum of visible light, even from the hidden, invisible light.

But that requires courage.

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When you discover that the glasses (the illusion) on your nose are “liars,” you are implacably confronted with the anxiety of death or helplessness, misery or smallness, sickness or aging. When we take off the glasses we become realistic, that is, vulnerable. It’s the moment when we become aware of our fragility and precariousness in front of reality and nature. It isn’t advisable at all to give up the pink lenses through which we see the world, not even to put our glasses down. Only sometimes it is desirable to take a realistic look over them. To be tangent with reality implies an unaltered position that we only reach if we use reason to avoid perceptive and cognitive bias as much as possible.

The glasses with pink lenses are the positive illusions needed as adaptive mechanisms in an insecure and unpredictable world. Realism and the absence of pink lenses represent the depressed position with a high risk of suicide.

Pink lenses make the world more beautiful and life easier to live and therefore can increase happiness and well-being. Healthy people have at least one pair of such glasses.

If you are the owner of such glasses, consider yourself lucky at the “cortical lottery”. There seems to be a genetic determination on the pink lenses.

So some of us are luckier and benefit from lenses with pink shades, and less fortunate people have received lenses with pale pink shades. There are also the unfortunate ones in the “lenses cortical lottery”, who are struggling with severe depression or manic-depressive syndrome.

The lenses of the glasses are colored in pink by the following three illusions:

– The self is amplified positively. In relation to your own self, you perceive yourself as important, beautiful, competent and other positive attributes.

– The illusion that you have control over the environment. In relation to the world, you feel in control, that you have the freedom and the power to change or act on the environment to fulfill your desires.

– Unrealistic optimism in relation to the future. When you imagine your future, you have an unrealistic optimist perspective, living in the emotional register as joy and trust – you think everything will be fine.

Why are they illusions to us? Because our glasses are altering reality, it colors it with pink shades, even if they apply a bit of gray every now and then. Naturally, the reality is unpredictable and indifferent to our prayers, desires, and actions. And the future is still unwritten.

Reality does not support anyone’s side. Reality doesn’t favor anyone as a result of a plan because there are no plans and goals (unless you imagine the presence of a divine entity orchestrating the universe). Reality is spontaneous. But that doesn’t mean we’re helpless. We have control over our actions, but not over the results; which may be desirable or expected only in terms of probability.

In this “insensitive and indifferent” reality, we can be our own artists who paint our own world and our own character in pink shades, or we can be our own narrator and novelist who writes his/her personal history with humor. But do not forget, to take a look at reality over your glasses with pink lenses from time to time just to balance your wheels.

***

Taylor, Shelley E. (1989). Positive Illusions. Creative Self-Deception and The Healthy Mind. Basic Books, New York

The Madonna-Whore Syndrome…

In 1912, when S. Freud elaborated the theory of sexuality, he introduced a psychoanalytic concept on the relational stage, which in literature is called “Madonna-Whore Syndrome” and managed to hystericize at least half of the people on the planet. And he continues to do it today, only in another way. Today, psychoanalysis is blamed for the importance of percentages given to sexuality in the individual’s mental life (before, it simply denied the presence of sexuality or its importance). The fact that what is obvious in everyday life is not to be found in psychoanalysis is a dichotomy. I mean, why should Freud’s value be interpreted as abuse in explaining neurosis? If we are still so concerned by the subject of “sex,” why would we then wonder that inhibiting sexual function generates problems? (Actually, it does!)
Madonna / Whore syndrome brings the idea that men (and women) classify women into two categories to the forefront, dividing them into two camps: “Madonna” and degraded women, “Whores.”
The good girls – the Madonnas – are virtuous, innocent, pure and virginal, almost to the point of asexuality (like angels that fly through the heads of some). The bad girls – the whores – are sexually voracious, indiscriminate and aggressive … in fact, they are often depicted acting in a way traditionally defined by male sexuality.
Freud had many brilliant insights (obviously he also had many mistakes in his theories, genius is not guaranteed, nor absolute at anyone), but the dichotomy he exhibited in Madonna / Whore syndrome is brilliant.
This dichotomy had existed for centuries long before Freud’s theory of sexuality before he began to have strange thoughts about cigars and see penises everywhere 🙂 Sexuality is a central theme in our lives. Primitive societies, archaic cultures everywhere have put sexuality under control, invented rules, precepts, taboos, or specific laws. Sexuality is most often forbidden – and “the most forbidden practice,” then it is no wonder that the mythologies of peoples grant absolute liberty in this field only to supernatural gods and beings. For Hindu people, for example, styles of sexual intercourse between mythical beings are carved on temples. Very good :), at least they can enjoy it. Or coming closer to our day, when archaeologists discovered the ancient city of Pompeii, which under the pressure of the lava was kept intact, seeing the mosaics with explicit sexual scenes in the houses of the Romans made them wonder if they did not arrive in Las Vegas 🙂 somehow by mistake. Today we can see this manifested in pop culture: “the blond girl,” virgin and even repressed (usually a blonde) and ” la femme fatale”, the immoral woman (usually a brunette) for whom sex is a weapon and men are just tools. It can be clearly distinguished from the way men – and women – refer to women’s behavior and how men treat women in their lives.
And this faith hurts them all.
Madonna or Whore – a dilemma for the modern woman who wants to reconcile all roles and a more emotional and erotic dichotomy for men who cannot combine both roles of a woman: the serious woman and the “easy” woman.
How does the Madonna-Whore Syndrome actually manifest?
By the man’s inability to maintain a passionate erotic relationship with the woman he loves and with whom he is in an assumed relationship. When he develops a deep sense of romantic attachment, he can even experience episodes of temporary impotence. He will avoid starting hot sex parties, feeling castrated in the relationship with that woman. That’s because in his mind women are split into two categories: women they admire and women they want to have sex with and the loved woman with whom they are in a relationship cannot be both. His sexuality will be inhibited by the emotion of love, and he, not rarely, will decide to satisfy it beyond the relationship but without any intention to leave his lover or wife.
From a certain point on, a man can look at his beloved woman as the woman he wants to have children with, and as such he unconsciously passes her into the category of “saints.” His sexuality can be affected because he does not see her as a woman with whom she can have erotic pleasures with but as a woman who will raise his children. And if there are issues about Oedipus’ complex (suppression of sexuality to his mother, and competition with his father for mother’s affection), romantic-erotic failure is a certainty. Sometimes the fixation of the Madonna-Whore complex can also be facilitated by an accentuous religiosity that divides love into the divine sacrifice and the profane-animalistic. Unfortunately, even today, some families consider the sexual impulse as coming from “the ancestral reptilian brain” (referring to Adam and Eve and the belief that the woman introduced the primal sin), or even being “devil’s work” which is good to protect yourself from as much as you can. The sex sphere thus divided during childhood remains dissociated in two directions that are excluded from each other and fail to reach a unitary sexual pattern.

The truth behind this complex “simple learning ” is much more; it’s not just sex. Both roles are insulting to women. The suggestion that a woman is a sexual being implies that it is otherwise worthless because it is sexual. The concept of “shing-shaming” – mocking or insulting a woman to be a sexual being – also springs from this dichotomy. Because a woman doesn’t follow the role of restricted sexuality that culture creates for her (the way of Madonna), she must be scorned and scared. The guilt of the treatment of a whore is focused only on her. If she were docile, innocent and pure, it would not attract judgment on her.
On the other hand, “Madonna / Virgin” represents the fear of unrestricted sexuality, Madonna is equally patronizing and insulting to women. Putting Madonna on the pedestal of holiness and purity becomes something “protected.” Her role is to be submissive to men as well; just as “Whore / Prostitute” is meant to be punished, Madonna must be preserved and worshiped. Her personality is completely ignored.
It’s About More Than Just Sex.
The difference between Madonna and the Whore goes beyond just sexual expression. The division of “good girl” from “bad girl” covers societal codes for behavior as well. The Good Girl is submissive. She does not act too forward or aggressive for fear of offending others. She’s quiet. She goes along to get along. The Bad Girl, on the other hand, is a bitch. She’s brassy. She’s loud. She stands her ground or even pushes for more. She makes a fuss.

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The first step for men who are still under moral pressure (unconscious or taught) of the Madonna / Whore Syndrome is to accept that all women are sexual beings. The division between the “good girls” who do not and the “bad girls” that do is a remanence of time, religion, and culture that no longer exists. A woman who has sex, enjoys sex and radiates sexuality is still a woman who is as capable of being a loving and responsible parent for your future children (perhaps even more successful because she is not repressed). Similarly, the girlfriend or wife you love is still a sexual being; the fact that you’re in a relationship or putting a ring on her finger does not mean she still does not want the wild sex that you two had in the first few days when you burned through every page of Kama Sutra.
The authenticity and congruence of a relationship are more than finding a maternal figure that will grow your future descendants. You want a partner, yes, but a partner in crime too. You both signed a contract to share an adventure together, and that means sharing and experimenting with the crazy fantasies that you have. Remember that she is a sexual bearer just like you and enjoys the adventure together (yes, even on the “transgressive, borderline illegal stuff” section), that you dream of having once.
Appreciate that (your girlfriend, your wife) your angel has her side of the devil inside of her or that your devil has that angelic part and embraces them all.