Bullshitters. Who are They and What Do We Know About Their Lives?

36 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by John Jerrim

John Jerrim

University of London - Institute of Education

Philip Parker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dominique Shure

University College London

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

'Bullshitters' are individuals who claim knowledge or expertise in an area where they actually have little experience or skill. Despite this being a well-known and widespread social phenomenon, relatively few large-scale empirical studies have been conducted into this issue. This paper attempts to fill this gap in the literature by examining teenagers' propensity to claim expertise in three mathematics constructs that do not really exist. Using Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data from nine Anglophone countries and over 40,000 young people, we find substantial differences in young people's tendency to bullshit across countries, genders and socio-economic groups. Bullshitters are also found to exhibit high levels of overconfidence and believe they work hard, persevere at tasks, and are popular amongst their peers. Together this provides important new insight into who bullshitters are and the type of survey responses that they provide.

Keywords: PISA, overclaiming, bullshit

JEL Classification: I24, J16

Suggested Citation

Jerrim, John and Parker, Philip and Shure, Dominique, Bullshitters. Who are They and What Do We Know About Their Lives? (April 2019). IZA Discussion Paper No. 12282, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3390272 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3390272

John Jerrim (Contact Author)

University of London - Institute of Education ( email )

20 Bedford Way,
London, WC1H 0AL
United Kingdom

Philip Parker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dominique Shure

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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