The fallacy of personal validation: a classroom demonstration of gullibility

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Abstract

Acceptance by subject or analyst is no proof of correctness of interpretations made from case histories, projective tests, crystal-gazing, or graphology. One week after students filled out the Diagnostic Interest Blank they were given identical generalized personality sketches supposedly based upon the DIB. They rated the effectiveness of the DIB, the correctness of the entire sketch, and finally the truth of each of the 13 statements in the sketch. Everyone considered the sketch highly accurate. Minimum correspondence with self-evaluation seems to encourage acceptance of a total diagnosis, although specific statements are evaluated more cautiously.

Author-supplied keywords

  • DIAGNOSIS & EVALUATION
  • PERSONALITY, INVENTORY SCORES, PERSONAL VALIDATION

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Authors

  • Bertram R. Forer

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