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  • Writer's pictureThe Merge

Bullshitting May Indicate Higher Intelligence, Research Suggests

Recent research indicates that the capacity to bullshit during conversations convincingly might be a sign of higher intelligence. This intriguing finding comes from a study featured in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

Bullshitting May Indicate Higher Intelligence

The study involved 1,017 participants and explored the relationship between cognitive abilities, the ability to bluff, and the skillfulness in doing so. Participants were presented with ten concepts, some real like Sexual Selection Theory and some fictitious like Subjunctive Scaling. Their self-assessed knowledge of these concepts was used to gauge their willingness to bullshit.

A subset of 534 participants was tasked with crafting convincing explanations for each concept, regardless of their truthfulness. These explanations were evaluated by a separate group of "bullshit raters" for their accuracy and satisfaction level, also guessing the intelligence of the creators.

Results revealed a correlation between the ability to produce credible definitions for fictitious concepts and higher scores in vocabulary, abstract reasoning, and non-verbal fluid intelligence tests. The study suggests that adept bullshitting could be a strategic tool in social skills, reflecting one's intelligence.

However, the researchers caution that these findings are preliminary and call for further investigation into the potential causal relationship between intelligence and the ability to bullshit.


Interestingly, the study found that higher intelligence did not correlate with a higher frequency of bullshitting. Lead researcher Mane Kara-Yakoubian suggests that more intelligent individuals might better understand when bullshitting is effective due to a heightened theory of mind.

The study also observed a tendency among frequent bullshitters to be more susceptible to pseudo-profound, misleading information, aligning with findings from the British Journal of Social Psychology.

Kara-Yakoubian, inspired by her own academic experiences where more elaborate bullshitting yielded better grades, was driven to explore this topic further, noting its relevance in everyday life.

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