Does this description fit you too?


April 15, 2015 by Melissa Ray

“The Forer Effect” – Heman Chong (2008)

“The Forer Effect” – Heman Chong (2008)


Yesterday I saw this description printed on the wall of the foyer in Singapore Art Museum and thought wow, it could have been written about me. Then I wondered if that was the aim of the piece. Did the artist intend to use generic statements that any viewer could relate to?

Close enough. The piece is actually based on personality tests used in psychological experiments conducted by Bertram R. Forer in 1948, in which people were asked to rate the accuracy of statements when applied to their own personalities. The results revealed that people tend to read general statements and interpret them as being accurate of themselves—a phenomenon labelled “the Forer effect”. The effect is said to partially explain the widespread acceptance of pseudosciences such as astrology and fortune telling.

I’m not a person who believes in horoscopes or fortune telling, but I was convinced the statements described me exactly. How about you?


Wordless Wednesday

5 thoughts on “Does this description fit you too?

  1. Niamh says:

    Clever piece of work! Most of those would apply to myself, and a lot of sports people – especially disciplined and insecure 🙂 And not liking to be hemmed in, always wanting to be outside even though that’s not practical. They’re quite negative a lot of the comments do you think?

    • Melissa Ray says:

      I suppose they are, but perhaps people would be less likely to agree with a list of positive statements? I thought the last statement was the most negative one in the list. Sometimes it’s good to be a dreamer!

  2. I suspect that that statement is more-or-less true for just about everyone, in every sort of job. Very few people want to reveal their inner insecurities, except perhaps to their closest friends.

    • Melissa Ray says:

      True. Were you aware of Forer’s experiments? I’d actually never heard of the Forer effect before reading up on the piece of art in the exhibition so glad a I learned a few things from my art museum visit.

  3. Steve Bendelack says:

    I happened upon the “Barnam Effect” when reading a piece about how magicians,mentalists etc..use
    various suggestive devices to dazzle and delight an audiences with their powers…
    Something I have long been interested in as a filmmaker/”artist”.
    Yes,like you Muay I am struck by the accuracy that I
    Perceive in the statement.!How clever of Forer to copy something out of an astrology book and ask his students to “assess” his analysis!
    Years ago I had a summer as a gopher on a fashion magazine whilst at art school.One of the jobs was to write the astrology column.whoever wrote the best one,got to see it printed.I won on one occasion!
    Very chuffed I was too.

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