Expanding the bullshit research out of pseudo-transcendental domain


The ability to distinguish bullshit from factual, but less appealing, information is becoming a crucial skill in present-day society. The aim of this paper was to extend the research conducted by Pennycook et al. (Judgment and Decision Making, 10(6), 549–563, 2015) by developing and validating the General Bullshit Receptivity Scale (GBRS), designed to measure bullshit in more general and non-transcendental context, than the Bullshit Receptivity Scale (BSR). In this paper we assessed the psychometric properties of the GBRS on representative sample of Slovak participants (N = 458) and explored the relation between the GBRS and original BSR scale, epistemically suspect beliefs, ontological confusion, spirituality, personality and analytical thinking. People who thought the randomly generated transcendental statements were more profound were more susceptible to accepting more general bullshit and other epistemically suspect beliefs, and this tendency was accompanied with a low level of analytical thinking. Non-cognitive factors (agreeableness, spirituality) also contributed to perceptions the bullshit was profound and truthful. The most “impressive” bullshit was bullshit that did not contain obscure vocabulary but seemingly provided recipients with intuitive, though untruthful insights. We believe we have succeeded in constructing and refining a new measure for detecting other kind of bullshit that enables us to better understand the underlying cognitive mechanisms and personality variables.

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This work was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency, Grant/Award Number: APVV-16-0153 and VEGA 2/0085/17 and was also part of the Social Analysis of Slovakia research project funded by the Institute of Strategic Analyses at the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

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Correspondence to Vladimíra Čavojová.

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Authors of this paper declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

Research was approved and funded by Slovak Research and Development Agency. Human subjects approval by institutional review board was not required for this research, as it concerned adult participants and no deception. All participants gave their informed consent with participation in the study. Authors of this paper declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Čavojová, V., Brezina, I. & Jurkovič, M. Expanding the bullshit research out of pseudo-transcendental domain. Curr Psychol (2020).

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  • Bullshit receptivity
  • General bullshit receptivity scale
  • Epistemically suspect beliefs
  • Ontological confusion
  • Analytical thinking