Report The results are in from the first study of what encourages and deters people from bullshitting

Discussion in 'Headline News' started by tom_mai78101, May 22, 2018.

  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

    +957 / 4 / -1
    “Our country doesn’t do many things well, but when it comes to big occasions, no one else comes close,” so claimed an instructor I heard at the gym this week. He might be an expert in physical fitness but it’s doubtful this chap was drawing on any evidence or established knowledge about the UK’s standing on the international league table of pageantry or anything else, and what’s more, he probably didn’t care about his oversight. What he probably did feel is a social pressure to have an opinion on the royal wedding that took place last weekend. To borrow the terminology of US psychologist John Petrocelli, he was probably bullshitting.

    “In essence,” Petrocelli explains in his new paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, “the bullshitter is a relatively careless thinker/communicator and plays fast and loose with ideas and/or information as he bypasses consideration of, or concern for, evidence and established knowledge.”

    While pontificating on Britain’s prowess at pomp is pretty harmless, Petrocelli has more serious topics in mind. “Whether they be claims or expressions of opinions about the effects of vaccinations, the causes of success and failure, or political ideation, doing so with little to no concern for evidence or truth is wrong,” he writes.

    There are countless psychology studies into lying (which is different from bullshitting because it involves deliberately concealing the truth) and an increasing number into fake news (again, unlike BS, deliberate manipulation is part of it). However, there are virtually none on bullshitting. Now Petrocelli has made a start, identifying several social factors that encourage or deter the practice.

    The research began with nearly 600 people on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk survey website reading that a man named Jim had pulled out of running for a seat on the City Council. Participants thought they were taking part in a study of how we ascribe causes to others’ behaviour (the term bullshitting did not appear anywhere in the experiment instructions), and after they read about Jim’s resignation, they were invited to list five possible reasons and any related thoughts on why Jim might have done this – a perfect opportunity for bullshitters to let rip!

    Read more here. (British Psychological Society)

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