Bertram Forer

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Bertram Forer
Bertram Robin Forer

(1914-10-24)24 October 1914
Springfield, Massachusetts
Died6 April 2000(2000-04-06) (aged 85)
Ventura, California
Known forBarnum effect

Bertram R. Forer (24 October 1914 – 6 April 2000) was an American psychologist best known for describing the Forer effect, sometimes referred to as subjective validation.[1]


Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Forer graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1936. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from University of California, Los Angeles.

He served as a psychologist and administrator in a military hospital in France during World War II. Upon return he worked in a Veterans Administration mental clinic in Los Angeles; and in private practice in Malibu, California.

In his classic 1948 experiment, Forer administered a personality test to his students. Rather than scoring the tests and giving individual assessments, he gave all the students exactly the same analysis copied from a newspaper astrology column. The students were then asked to evaluate the description on a scale of zero through five, with five being the most accurate. The average evaluation was 4.26.[2][3] The experiment has been repeated hundreds of times since 1948, and the average remains about 4.2.[4]

The Forer effect shows that people tend to accept generalised descriptions of their personalities without realising that the same evaluation could apply to nearly anyone else, because people want the results to be true. This experiment is frequently cited as criticisms of other personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Bertram Forer was married to Lucille Kremith Forer, best known as the main author of the book "The Birth Order Factor".[5][6] They have two sons, Stephen K. Forer and William R. Forer. Bertram's sister is voice artist June Foray.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Death notice Archived 2011-01-29 at the Wayback Machine UMassMag, Winter 2001
  2. ^ Forer BR (1949). The fallacy of personal validation: A classroom demonstration of gullibility Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 44, 118-123
  3. ^ Forer BR (1968). Personal validation and the person. Psychol Rep. 1968 Dec;23(3):1214. PMID 5717433
  4. ^ Forer BR, Farberow NL, Meter MM, Tolman RS (1952). Consistency and agreement in the judgment of Rorschach signs. J Proj Tech. 1952 Sep;16(3):346-51. PMID 14946755
  5. ^ Forer, Lucille. K. "The Birth Order Factor: How Your Personality is Influenced by Your Place in the Family". Good reads. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  6. ^ Forer, Lucille K; Still, (Collaborator) Henry (1 June 1977). The Birth Order Factor: How Your Personality Is Influenced By Your Place In The Family. Pocket Books. ISBN 0671808710. {{cite book}}: |first2= has generic name (help)