Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

If you have this condition, you’re more likely to believe “pseudo-profound bullsh*t"

Researchers find out why some people believe utter BS.

If you have this condition, you’re more likely to believe “pseudo-profound bullsh*t"
Pixabay
  • Scientists discover that people who have high apophenia are more likely to believe "pseudo-profound bullshit".
  • Apophenia is a tendency to see patterns and connections that aren't really there.
  • The condition could be a precursor to more serious mental illness.

If you've been feeling snarky about the motivational posts some of your friends keep posting on social media, there's a new study for you. It turns out, as researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia discovered, there is a condition that makes people more susceptible to so-called "pseudo-profound bullshit statements"(PPBS).

The name of this affliction is "apophenia," which means having a tendency to find patterns or connections where none are present. The scientists concluded that people with high apophenia couldn't differentiate well between statements that were actually profound and those that were pseudo-profound.

The study's co-author Timothy Bainbridge of the University of Melbourne was drawn to PPBS expressions for "the strangely alluring sense that they should mean something, while not meaning anything," as he related in an interview.

The researchers carried out two studies that involved 297 college students, who had to read and rate various statements – some of them genuinely profound, some more everyday, and others high in pseudo-profundity. If you're wondering, examples of such included gems like "Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty" and "Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena."

An instance of a truly profound sentence from the study was "The creative adult is the child who survived." Certainly, one could argue there is some subjectivity in judging what is truly meaningful.

The participants whose measures of apophenia were higher were also the ones more likely to rate PPBS statements as more profound. Conversely, those who had higher intelligence scores, generally found pseudo-profound BS less appealing and were able to pick out the truer ideas.

"I think the take-home from this paper is that people who find PPBS profound do so more because of an inability to discriminate the profound from the pseudo-profound rather than because of a general propensity to find all statements profound," Bainbridge told PsyPost.

The German psychiatrist Klaus Conrad coined the term "apophenia" in 1958, which he defined as "unmotivated seeing of connections [accompanied by] a specific feeling of abnormal meaningfulness." He saw it as an early stage of delusional thought leading to schizophrenia.

You can read the new study "Openness/Intellect and Susceptibility to Pseudo‐Profound Bullshit: A Replication and Extension" in the European Journal of Personality.

Besides Bainbridge, the study was also authored by Joshua A. Quinlan, Raymond A. Mar, and Luke D. Smillie.

Check out also this great lecture from another team working on understanding people's propensity to believe bullshit --

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

Gear
  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

4 breathing techniques to get you through high-stress moments

You're always in control of your breath.

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock
Personal Growth
  • Anxiety is triggered environmentally and emotionally, but a physiological response quickly follows.
  • Calming breathing techniques help to tamp down the physiological response of anxiety.
  • The following four exercises are known to help calm anxiety and develop focus.
Keep reading Show less

Learn to trade stocks like a pro for under $30

Get 11 hours of proven techniques on candlestick, day trading, and investment.

Gear
  • Becoming a successful trader involves learning the psychology tricks of the trade.
  • Risk management and a winning mindset can help you maximize profits in the market.
  • Simple technical and fundamental analysis strategies can help you consistently profit.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast