Typically, intelligence is measured via an IQ test.
But according to a new study, there may be another way to evaluate people's intellects: seeing if they take stock in the so-called “pseudo-profound” quotes that dominate social media.
University of Waterloo PhD student Gordon Pennycook recently surveyed around 300 individuals to determine if there is a link between intelligence and the belief in the mantras and dogmas perpetuated by “inspirational” quotes on social media.
Pennycook was inspired to conduct the study after stumbling upon a website chock-full of motivational quotes that bore little to no intrinsic value.
In an interview with VICE, the researcher explained,
I came across the website, I just kind of thought about if there was any research on this; I wanted to know if people thought those statements were profound. I often see quotes that are maybe not quite as egregious, but you see a lot of motivational ones…there's quotes and a picture of somebody who obviously did not say the quote — you come across that quite often.
For the study, each participant was given a series of statements to rate using a numerical scale to classify each quote as either “profound,” “bullsh*t” or “mundane.” They were also given a series of cognitive and intellectual tests.
Unsurprisingly, Pennycook determined those who classified the seemingly inspirational (but totally nonsensical) statements as “profound” were more likely to be of lower intelligence than their savvier counterparts.
The researchers discovered they were also more likely to believe conspiracy theories, the paranormal and other less-than-logical systems.
Bad news for all the (ahem, stupid) motivational maniacs out there, but hey, this gives the rest of us an excuse to do some serious un-friending. Quote-posters, consider yourselves warned.
Read the full study, titled "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullsh*t," here.