Political Bullshit Receptivity and its Correlates: A Cross-Country Validation of the Concept


  • Vukašin Gligorić
  • Allard Feddes
  • Bertjan Doosje


Philosophers conceptualized bullshit as persuasive communication that has no regard for truth, knowledge, or evidence. In psychology, research mostly investigated pseudo-profound bullshit, but no study has examined bullshit in the political context. In the present research, we operationalized political bullshit receptivity as endorsing vague political statements, slogans, and political bullshit programs. We investigated the relationship of these three measures with pseudo-profound bullshit, ideology (political ideology, support for neoliberalism), populism, and voting behavior. Three pre-registered studies conducted in early 2020 in the U.S., Serbia, and the Netherlands (total N = 534) yielded medium to high intercorrelations between political bullshit measures and pseudo-profound bullshit, and acceptable construct validity (hypothesized one-factor solution). A meta-analysis on these three studies showed that all political bullshit measures positively correlated with support for the free market, while only some positively correlated with social (political statements and programs) and economic conservatism (programs), and populism (programs). In the U.S., the Netherlands, and all countries combined, increased receptivity to political bullshit was associated with a higher probability to vote for right-wing candidates/parties (e.g., Trump in the U.S.). Overall, political bullshit receptivity showed to be a useful construct that opens avenues for research in broad and meaningless political communication.