The psychology of bullshitting: Measurement, correlates, and outcomes of the propensity to mislead others
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Recent psychological research has identified important individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit, which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the processes behind susceptibility to pseudo‐profound or otherwise misleading information. However, the bulk of this research attention has focused on cognitive and dispositional factors related to bullshit (the product), while largely overlooking the influences behind bullshitting (the act). Here, I present results from nine studies focusing on: 1) the construction and validation of a new, reliable scale measuring the frequency with which individuals engage in two types of bullshitting (persuasive and evasive) in everyday situations; 2) the associations of both types of bullshitting frequency with other relevant constructs, and; 3) the extent to which those who produce bullshit are also receptive to various types of bullshit. Overall, bullshitting frequency was negatively associated with sincerity, honesty, cognitive ability, open‐minded cognition, and self‐regard. Additionally, the Bullshitting Frequency Scale was found to reliably measure constructs that are (1) distinct from lying and (2) significantly related to performance on overclaiming and social decision tasks. Moreover, the frequency with which individuals engage in persuasive bullshitting (i.e., bullshitting intended to impress or persuade others) was found to positively predict susceptibility to various types of misleading information and this association is robust to individual differences in cognitive ability and analytic cognitive style. These results represent an important step forward in the study of the spread of misinformation by demonstrating the utility of the Bullshitting Frequency Scale as well as highlighting certain individual differences that may play important roles in the extent to which individuals engage in and are receptive to everyday bullshitting.
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Shane Littrell (2021). The psychology of bullshitting: Measurement, correlates, and outcomes of the propensity to mislead others. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17143