Modern Psychological Studies
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
The present study examined the relationship between students' level of sophistication and confidence in personality assessment procedures with their susceptibility to the Barnum effect— the tendency for individuals to accept highly generalized, ambiguous profiles as accurate descriptions of their personality. Thirty-five university students (22 females, 13 males, mean age 26) completed a brief personality questionnaire under the impression they would be receiving an interpretation from a) a masters level clinician, b) a clinical psychologist (PhD), or c) a form of computer assessment. A pretest asking for the subject's age, sophistication, and their perceptions of the three assessment sources accompanied the questionnaire. Subjects received one of two profiles categorized by moderate or high favorability and were asked to rate both the accuracy and degree to which the profile described their unique personality. While neither the main effects for feedback source or favorability proved significant, multiple regression analyses found subjects' sophistication and initial confidence in the personality assessment procedures to be effective predictors of their accuracy and uniqueness ratings. The results suggest that cognitive variables can mediate susceptibility to the Barnum effect.
BF1 .M63 v. 3 no. 2 1995
Rutledge, Thomas R.
"Students' sophistication level and confidence in testing procedures predicts susceptibility to the Barnum effect,"
Modern Psychological Studies: Vol. 3
, Article 7.
Available at: http://scholar.utc.edu/mps/vol3/iss2/7