The Forer Effect and K impacts

From wikipedia:

The Forer effect (also called the Barnum Effect after P.T. Barnum‘s observation that “we’ve got something for everyone”) is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, and some types of personality tests.

A related and more generic phenomenon effect is that of subjective validation.[1] Subjective validation occurs when two unrelated or even random events are perceived to be related because a belief, expectancy, or hypothesis demands a relationship. Thus people seek a correspondence between their perception of their personality and the contents of a horoscope.

An article quoted on the dish today has a more specific application

The tendency to believe vague statements designed to appeal to just about anyone is called the Forer Effect, and psychologists point to this phenomenon to explain why people fall for pseudoscience like biorhythms, iridology and phrenology or mysticism like astrology, numerology and tarot cards.

The Forer Effect is part of larger phenomenon psychologists refer to as subjective validation, which is a fancy way of saying you are far more vulnerable to suggestion when the subject of the conversation is you.

How does this relate to K impacts? Read on to find out

Many K’s make the judge the subject of the conversation- more important than the enaction by the USFG of the plan is the judge’s personal contributions to systems like capitalism or patriarchy. The Forer effect gives an interesting explanation of why judges often are so receptive to “root cause” arguments that many agree are relatively silly when thought out logically. By making the judge’s personal politics the question of the ballot, K debaters can exploit the “subjective validation” element of the judge’s personality (I can feel the language K coming after that last sentence…).

This line of reasoning probably appeals even more to debaters who view the K as some sort of mysticism or pseudo science that they don’t quite understand.

10 thoughts on “The Forer Effect and K impacts

  1. Nick Fiori

    It might be a little insulting to equate a debate judge's intelligence with that of the average person who visits a psychic. No offense to anyone who might believe in psychics and what not, but in my experience, psychic goers and those versed in high theory rarely overlap.

  2. Scott Phillips

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-9973">
    Nick Fiori :
    <div class="edit-comment" id="edit-comment9973" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">It might be a little insulting to equate a debate judge’s intelligence with that of the average person who visits a psychic. No offense to anyone who might believe in psychics and what not, but in my experience, psychic goers and those versed in high theory rarely overlap.
    </div><div id="comment-undo-9973" class="aec-undo" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;"></div><div class="edit-comment-admin-links " id="edit-comment-admin-links9973" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent; display: block;"><a title="Ajax Edit Comments" class="edit-comment" href="; onclick="return jQuery.ajaxeditcomments.edit(this);" id="edit-9973" rel="nofollow">Edit<span class="aec-dropdownarrow" id="aec-dropdownarrow-9973"><a class="aec-dropdownlink" href="cid=9973" onclick="jQuery.ajaxeditcomments.dropdown(this); return false;" id="aec-dropdownlink-9973" rel="nofollow">More Options</span><span class="aec-dropdown" id="aec-dropdown-9973"><a title="Move Comments" class="move-comment" href="; onclick="return jQuery.ajaxeditcomments.move(this);" id="move-9973" rel="nofollow">Move<a class="moderate-comment" href="; onclick="jQuery.ajaxeditcomments.moderate(this); return false;" id="moderate-9973" rel="nofollow">Moderate<a class="spam-comment" href="; onclick="jQuery.ajaxeditcomments.spam(this); return false;" id="spam-9973" rel="nofollow">Spam<a title="Blacklist Comment" class="blacklist-comment" href="; onclick="jQuery.ajaxeditcomments.blacklist_comment(this); return false;" id="blacklist-9973" rel="nofollow">Blacklist<a class="delete-comment" href="; onclick="jQuery.ajaxeditcomments.delete_comment(this); return false;" id="delete-9973" rel="nofollow">Delete</span></div>

    O rly?

  3. Andy

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-9982">
    Layne :Roy visits physics. To warn them.

    Does he warn them they'll never find the higgs boson?

  4. Layne

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-9982">
    Layne :
    Roy visits physics. To warn them.

    *psychics. damn you spellcheck!

  5. kevin sanchez

    making the judge a subject in conversation, whatever other issues one might take with such a practice, does not necessarily entail describing their personality. even when they personally identify with a particular kritik, the position of the judge is seldom 'wow, this anti-capitalism really speaks to me (and no one else)'. so i'm not sure how studies of the 'forer effect' would apply, and think you're making a veiled accusation of standard kritik bias (to which a typical reply is, 'the same goes for policy bias').

    while complicity in unjust social systems does apply to a wide range of people, that does not mean that criticism of such systems is necessarily vague or pseudo-scientific. in fact, "exploiting the 'subjective validation' element of the judge's personality" is a rather vague statement itself: exactly what two events are unrelated that are being inappropriately related there? and i don't know who's picked out by "many agree", but i don't think it's illogical or silly to argue that the root cause of a problem be addressed before cosmetic reforms, as there can be disadvantages to not getting to the bottom of a problem as early as possible.

    one of the less utilized aspects of foucault's work is a defense of hard science against pseudo-science, exposing the lingering superstitions surrounding criminality or sexuality, for examples, or deflating the spooky wonder that disciplinary institutions often evoke in their subjects, for another. in general, policy discourse tends to reduce political concerns to purely technical solutions and sweep historical context and unscientific presuppositions under the rug of an impersonal-sounding rhetorical urgency. aren't today's policy experts the only real-world analogies left to the fortune-tellers and astrologers of old? {alasdair macintyre would say so, and i'd invite you to read his 'after virtue' – pages 10-12, 88-91 specifically.}

    finally, your post seems self-refuting, since you're unscientifically relating two unrelated concepts on account of your own personal experiences of kritik in debate.

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