Disfluency attenuates the reception of pseudoprofound and postmodernist bullshit

Thinking and Reasoning 1 (2023)
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Four studies explore the role of perceptual fluency in attenuating bullshit receptivity, or the tendency for individuals to rate otherwise meaningless statements as “profound”. Across four studies, we presented participants with a sample of pseudoprofound bullshit statements in either a fluent or disfluent font and found that overall, disfluency attenuated bullshit receptivity while also finding little evidence that this effect was moderated by cognitive thinking style. In all studies, we measured participants’ cognitive reflection, need for cognition, faith in intuition, and superstitious beliefs. Superstition strongly predicted bullshit receptivity regardless of fluency. Inconclusive results were found for the remaining scales. Potential links for the role of perceptual disfluency in promoting analytic thinking are discussed.

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Author Profiles

Nicolas Porot
Mohammed VI Polytechnic University
Eric Mandelbaum
CUNY Graduate Center

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References found in this work

Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition Advancing the Debate.Jonathan Evans & Keith E. Stanovich - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (3):223-241.
On Bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Thinking is Believing.Eric Mandelbaum - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (1):55-96.

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