The median and mode

The median and mode within both groups is the same. Although the mean is lower than both the median and mode in both groups, there is not a significant difference between them. The standard deviation is lower in the general group than the horoscope group; again the difference is not substantial. These histograms have shown that the two groups only differ slightly. Both groups of accuracy ratings are similar, with the majority of participants giving a rating of 4 in both groups. The accuracy rating of the personality descriptions was analysed using an independent t-test. This showed no significance in the ratings between the two groups (t (148) = -1.87, p=0.62)

Discussion The results showed that there was no significant difference between the two experimental groups. The hypothesis is partially supported as both groups rated the personality descriptions as fairly high, thus supporting the Barnum effect, however there was no significance between the two groups’ ratings and so the second part of our hypothesis must be rejected as we cannot rely on an insignificant difference.

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Although the findings show that a higher level of specificity does result in higher accuracy ratings, the difference is not significant enough for these findings to support Snyder’s (1974) research that specificity increases accuracy ratings. As our research was not as specific as Snyder’s experiment, this may explain why our ratings did not show significance, rather than presuming that there were issues which could have been resolved within Snyder’s theory.

One of the problems with the current study is that we only used two groups, rather than Snyder’s method of looking at three levels of specificity, perhaps resulting in our inability to find any significance between the groups. Another problem with the study is that all the participants were Psychology students, as Dana and Graham (1976) suggested; students may be relatively na�ve and “unsophisticated”, preventing the findings from being applied to individuals outside of the sample.

One way that we might further this research is to look into any differences between the acceptance of personality descriptions between males and females; it may be that females are more likely to accept horoscopes than males. We could also look into the significance of using a friend to present personality descriptions to individuals, as Downey (1998) suggested females are more likely to accept their friend’s bogus interpretations as a result of their ‘helpfulness’. In conclusion, this study has shown that individuals are likely to accept general personality descriptions and rate their accuracy highly, supporting the Barnum effect, however the levels of specificity did not have a significant effect on the accuracy ratings, this may be due to a methodological issue in which we did not use enough specificity groups.

References

Snyder, C. R., Shenkel, R. J., & Lowery, C. R. (1977). Acceptance of Personality Interpretations: The “Barnum Effect” and Beyond. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 45, 1, 104-114.

Bachrach, A. J., & Pattishell, E. G. (1960) An experiment in universal and personal validation. Psychiatry, 23, 267-270.

Dana, R. H., & Graham, E. D. (1976). Feedback of client-relevant information and clinical practice. Journal of personality Assessment, 40, 464-469.

Forer, B. R. (1949). The fallacy of personal validation: A classroom demonstration of gullibility. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, 44, 118-123.

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