An expanded model of cold reading

The above sources of information about the pseudopsychic technique suggest a model in which cold reading actually encompasses a number of discrete operations which appear to represent a hierarchy (see Figure 1).

All these processes involve the gathering of intelligence about the client, but are distinguishable on the basis of when and how transfer of information occurs, and of what form that information takes. Those at the base of the hierarchy require little, if any, interaction with the client, but the reading so-produced remains relatively vague or general. As the opportunity for interaction increases, so the reading can be made more specific to the client in attendance. Knowledge of all of the processes enables the reader to produce a reasonable sketch whatever situation he finds himself in, while being able to be increasingly impressive when circumstances allow.

Strategies which appear higher in the pyramid are somewhat dependent upon the use of those lower down for success. For example, the use of information drawn by virtue of pigeon-holing the client may be needed to initiate the necessary conditions for cold reading by providing the source material for the client to react to. Similarly, Barnum statements may be used as distractor items before feeding back information unwittingly given up by the client in warm reading. However, it should be noted that although these strategies can have a particular temporal order, in that some stages tend to be passed through to generate information necessary for stages higher in the pyramid, the reading as a whole does not represent a steady progression through the hierarchy. Rather, the reading is more likely to involve a number of switches from technique to technique depending on the information that is available. For example, if the initial conditions are such that the client immediately offers up personal information, the reader may decide not to employ lower-order methods of generating material for the reading. The remainder of this chapter provides an overview of the strategies which together seem to make up cold reading.

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