The complex relation between receptivity to pseudo-profound bullshit and political ideology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This research systematically mapped the relationship between political ideology and receptivity to pseudo-profound bullshit—that is, obscure sentences constructed to impress others rather than convey truth. Among Swedish adults (N = 985), bullshit receptivity was (a) robustly positively associated with socially conservative (vs. liberal) self-placement, resistance to change, and particularly binding moral intuitions (loyalty, authority, purity), (b) associated with centrism on preference for equality and even leftism (when controlling for other aspects of ideology) on economic ideology self-placement, and (c) lowest among right-of-center social liberal voters and highest among left-wing green voters. Most of the results held up when we controlled for perceived profundity of genuine aphorisms, cognitive reflection, numeracy, information processing bias, gender, age, education, religiosity, and spirituality. The results are supportive of theoretical accounts that posit ideological asymmetries in cognitive orientation, while also pointing to the existence of bullshit receptivity among both right- and left-wingers.


External organisations
  • Linköping University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • bullshit receptivity, political ideology, cognitive style, ideological asymmetry, moral foundations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1440-1454
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number10
Early online date2019 Mar 18
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch