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  1. ITV Report

Scientists find link between people who share 'inspirational' quote pictures and low intelligence

Scientists have found a link between people who like and share 'inspirational' quotes on social media and low intelligence.

Credit: PA/ITV News

According to the study, by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, people who are more receptive to what they described as "pseudo-profound, intellectual-sounding bull****" were more likely to be less intelligent, believe in conspiracy theories, believe in the paranormal and follow alternative medicine.

They tested almost 300 people on whether they were impressed by grand-sounding statements which are essentially meaningless.

Examples of those used include: "Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty", and: "We are at a crossroads of transformation and desire."

Credit: PA/ITV News
Credit: PA/ITV News

"Although this statement may seem to convey some sort of potentially profound meaning, it is merely a collection of buzzwords put together randomly in a sentence that retains syntactic structure," the report said.

"Bulls***, in contrast to mere nonsense, is something that implies but does not contain adequate meaning or truth."

The participants were asked to differentiate between philosophy quotes, "bulls***", and mundane sentences.

They were also tested on their personality traits to determine how they thought about themselves and the world around them.

Credit: PA/ITV News

Lead researcher, PhD candidate Gordon Pennycook, said people who were more receptive to the "bull****" statements were found to be "less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (ie verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), and are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation."

They were also more likely to "hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine."

Our findings are consistent with the idea that the tendency to rate vague, meaningless statements as profound is a legitimate psychological phenomenon that is consistently related to at least some variables of theoretical interest.

– Gordon Pennycook, University of Waterloo