FALLING VICTIM TO THE BARNUM EFFECT

When first discussing topics, we made a list of our interests which, unfortunately, had very few overlaps that would be viable topics. After talking for a while, we both decided that an infographic about color would be the most fun to design and the most aesthetically pleasing. This sparked the idea to do an infographic about how your favorite color reflected your personality or, more specifically, certain personality traits. After comparing a bunch of different sources, we gathered the color traits found on our infographic. At this point, we were very excited and decided to start designing our infographic thus creating our rectangle of colors. We chose a pastel shade of the color in the background so that the words in the bolder hue would stand out. Once our colorful rectangle was perfected, we realized we needed to actually make our claim and argue it. Unfortunately, research toward our original claim was generating vague and unreliable data instead of scientific and credible facts. Our research wasn’t strong enough to present a convincing argument, and this is when we knew we had to change directions. After many new ideas were presented and tossed aside, we started to think about the unreliability of the traits we had placed with each color. We realized that if we looked at any color, we could relate with many of the traits in every color, which led us to our idea of the Barnum Effect. Both being in psychology, the first place we looked was our textbook and found a very good basis for an argument. After researching more, we decided that the Barnum Effect was perfect for the topic of our infographic because we could help make people aware of its effects. The Barnum Effect can most commonly be found in horoscopes, fortune cookies, and various personality tests, which makes our intended audience the people that read (and believe) horoscopes, fortune cookies, and various personality tests. Our anticipated audience guided the decisions made about the color palette. Most people that read horoscopes and believe fortune cookies are either children or vibrant people. We chose to keep the color block and use a gradient of greens/blues to target the people that would most benefit from this infographic. A lively person isn’t likely to read a boring infographic, but one with lots of movement and color would be more tempting. This is why we used overlapping bubbles with the gradient to effortlessly guide the eyes of the reader across the infographic as well as to create movement. The audience also influenced our decision to keep our original rectangle of color traits to allow the reader to interact with the infographic and fall victim to the Barnum Effect. We felt this would make the reader more likely to finish reading, and hopefully retaining, the information. We hope that in the future, if our audience came across something that matched Barnum Effect descriptions that they would be more cautious about trusting the information and be skeptical about its validity.

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