What Your Facebook Status Says About Your Intellect

Written by Emi Boscamp

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened!"

"Dance like nobody is watching."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

How many times have you seen someone you haven't spoken to since high school post one of those — or any other cliché inspirational quote — over a super-filtered sunset photo?

Not only are these posts cringeworthy, they might actually say something about the intelligence of the people who post them.

According to a new study, aptly named "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit," from the University of Waterloo, people who post these "inspirational" quotes also have lower levels of intelligence. They're also more likely to hold religious beliefs and be taken in by conspiracy theories.

For the study, researchers asked 845 participants on their opinions on automatically generated, nonsensical statements (like "Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty") and real quotes, too. Then, by looking at other factors like cognitive ability, they determined the volunteers' intelligence levels.

They found that, in general, the participants had trouble telling the difference between the real and fake quotes. And those who found the fake quotes more compelling than the real quotes are "less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs."

Conversely, those who preferred the real quotes to the fake quotes, they found, were likelier to possess an analytic cognitive style and propensity for skepticism.

In other words: those who fell for the bullshit were (obviously) more likely to fall for other forms of bullshit.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, according to researcher Gordon Pennycook, they used the term "bullshit" approximately 200 times throughout the paper.

So, dear Facebook friend, next time you're about to press "share" on that starscape overlaid with a supposedly meaningful quotation, ask yourself, "Do I even know what this means?"

(h/t Science Alert)

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