Sometimes, health and behavior studies validate our personal quirks and lifestyle choices. For example, when "science says" doodling helps us focus or that exercise can make us smarter -- we tend to believe it (assuming you're a doodler or an exerciser). Other times, findings inspire shame and inadequacy. Sneak the occasional soda or smoke? You're only human. But, as research is quick to point out, you're killing yourself with your vices.
One new study, as reported by Psychological Science, does you the favor of both validating and shaming you. Self-proclaimed experts, the study showed, are more likely than the self-aware ignorant to pretend they know information -- even when it's completely wrong.
It's a phenomenon called "overclaiming." And, let's be honest, we've all been that asshole at one point or another. (Want to talk about grammar? Oh, that's my wheelhouse. I'll shamelessly bullshit you all night long, and I probably won't even know I'm full of shit.)
In the study, researchers asked 100 people to rate both their general knowledge of personal finance and 15 specific finance terms. Three of those terms were made-up ("pre-rated stocks," "fixed-rate deduction" and "annualized credit"). The more the participants claimed to know about finance, the more likely they were to "know" the fictitious phrases.
Before you condemn Wall Street douchebags for being blowhard know-it-alls, similar experiments were conducted with knowledge of biology and U.S. geography. The results were identical: Self-proclaimed savants were familiar with such invented terms as "bio-sexual" and non-existent cities as Cashmere, Oregon.
What's the takeaway for big-talking boasters? When dinner party chit chat veers into "your" field, be aware of the tendency to overclaim knowledge. Instead of bullshitting, try sitting back and letting the other guy sound like an asshole. For once.