Individual differences in receptivity to scientific bullshit

Anthony Evans*, Willem Sleegers, Žan Mlakar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity is the tendency to perceive meaning in important-sounding, nonsense statements. To understand how bullshit receptivity differs across domains, we develop a scale to measure scientific bullshit receptivity — the tendency to perceive truthfulness in nonsensical scientific statements. Across three studies (total N = 1,948), scientific
bullshit receptivity was positively correlated with pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity. Both types of bullshit receptivity were positively correlated with belief in science, conservative political beliefs, and faith in intuition. However, compared to pseudoprofound bullshit receptivity, scientific bullshit receptivity was more strongly correlated with belief in science, and less strongly
correlated with conservative political beliefs and faith in intuition. Finally, scientific literacy moderated the relationship the two types of bullshit receptivity; the correlation between the two types of receptivity was weaker for individuals scoring high in scientific literacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-412
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • bullshit receptivity
  • false beliefs
  • motivated reasoning
  • belief in science


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