Definition of Barnum effect in English:

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Barnum effect


The tendency to accept as true types of information such as character assessments or horoscopes, even when the information is so vague as to be worthless.
Example sentences
  • Much of the seeming ‘accuracy ‘of such checklists could stem from ‘P.T. Barnum effects ‘.
  • It also cuts out the ‘Barnum effect’ of performers fishing for information.
  • The technique appears to have parallels to the Barnum effect used by some mediums, clairvoyants, and tarot card readers.


Named after P. T. Barnum (see Barnum, P. T.); the word Barnum was in use from the mid 19th century as a noun in the sense 'nonsense, humbug'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Bar¦num ef¦fect

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