Men are more likely than women to fake expertise1 they don't have – and rich men are the worst culprits when it comes to speaking with authority on topics they have no idea about, according to a new study.
Researchers call this the art of 'BS.'
Experts at the University College of London partnered with the Australian Catholic University to measure how pervasive2 the BS trait is among different demographic groups, according to The Washington Post.
They asked study participants to give an assessment3 of how well they knew 16 different math topics on a scale of 1-5 – with answers ranging from, 'never heard of it' to 'know it well, understand the concept.'
The tricky4 thing is, three of those topics were completely made up: 'proper numbers,' 'subjunctive scaling' and 'declarative fractions.'
A BSer is more likely to 'display overconfidence in their academic prowess and problem-solving skills,' the study said.
In other words: be wary6 of braggarts – they're least likely to live up to the reputation they've built for themselves.
Using data from nine predominately English-speaking countries, researchers found that North Americans were more likely to BS than people in other parts of the world – and Canadians are worse than Americans.
By comparison, in Europe the BS trait was much more specific to men and the rich.Boys were more likely than girls to pretend they knew what the fabricated math subjects are – a finding that was consistent across all nine countries.
However, the gap between men and women was smallest in the United States, suggesting that gender7 equality is a little more balanced here when it comes to BS.
Researchers also found a major difference between socioeconomic classes, with the people living in richest households more likely to overstate their expertise – and the poorest least likely to indulge in BS.
However, again, the gap was smallest in the US.
The study also suggests that BS could sometimes manifest as a useful life skill, for example during job interviews and college applications.
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