Study Says Know-It-Alls Are More Likely to Fall for Bullshit

by Samantha Baumgartner

We all know a certain someone who claims to be educated in almost everything. That new band? They’ve heard of them. A new breakthrough in medicine?

They’ve not only heard of it, but they know all the pros and cons.

While the bullshit is evident (and tiresome), the act continues, and it seems as though it will never stop.

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at Cornell University and the Department of Marketing at Tulane University must have been equally fed up, because a study was conducted to discover why these know-it-alls, well, know it all.

The revelation: people who consider themselves experts in something stop learning about the topic altogether. Because you have a degree or two doesn’t mean you’ve learned everything there is to know, and if you truly do not know something, own up to it.

To reach this conclusion, Cornell and Tulane researchers held five separate studies. In studies 1a and 1b, 100 subjects were polled in finance terms – real and fake. The subjects who believed they had a solid grasp on finances claimed to have overall knowledge in the fake terms (pre-rated stocks, fixed-rate deduction, annualized credit).

Study 2 followed the same guidelines as the aforementioned, but focused on separate domains like biology. The outcome was the same as 1a and 1b.

In study 3, subjects were warned about fake terms but this “did not reduce the relationships between self-perceived knowledge and overclaiming,” according to the study’s abstract.

Finally, in study 4, the subjects were split into three groups and given different experiments. The first group took an easy geography quiz to boost their confidence, the second group did not take a quiz, and the third group took a difficult quiz in order to bring their confidence down. As predicted, the subjects who took the easy quiz felt they knew most about geography, claiming to have heard of the made-up towns.

 And if you can’t think of who this person is, it’s probably you. Before you embarrass yourself in the future, maybe do some research to back what you say.

Original article via Washington Post.

Images via Tumblr and Bluntcard

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