The Barnum Effect

Harvard Experiment

This is a story that pops up at just about every NLP training or personal development course:

[su_quote]In the 1950’s Harvard Business School approached their graduating students and asked them who had goal for their future. Only about 10% had goals and only 1% had them written down. 20 years later these graduates were approached and each of the 1% who had their goals written down were worth more than the other 99% put together.So it’s clear that if you want success in your life then you had better write down your goals![/su_quote]

There’s one small problem with this story…it never happened!

It was made up in the 1970’s by one of the personal development trainers at the time and it grew into a real myth. There is no record of this ever happening at Harvard or at any other school for that matter. No-one has ever come forwards as one of the 1% or 99%. It is just a nice story that gets people to write down their goals.

The downside though is that recent psychological research has shown that writing down your goals can actually have a negative effect on your motivation and REDUCE the chance of you achieving them! Whoops, perhaps it isn’t such a good story after all.

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