Some people are just more likely to bullshit than others.
Looking at data collected by a survey administered to students from nine English speaking countries, a team of researchers recently set out to discover which people overstated their abilities more than others. Or, as the researchers put it, how many people from different social groups were bullshitters.
The data was collected from a survey that asked participants to rate their knowledge on 16 different math topics—three of which were fictitious topics. If a person said they had a high knowledge level of the fake math topics the researchers deemed them to be bullshitters.
The results probably aren't surprising to most people. Across all of the countries included in the study, wealthy people and men in general were always the most likely to be bullshitters. That's not to say that women and people of lesser means never bullshit, they just don't seem to do so as often.
However, there were some variations based on the country the data was sourced from. For instance, while men are more likely to bullshit across the board, the gender gap is smallest in the US. Meanwhile, England boasted the biggest gender gap, where men were almost twice as likely to bullshit as women.
And while rich folks were more likely to bullshit than those on the lower end of the income scale, again that gap was the smallest in the US. The holder of the biggest income gap goes to Scotland where the rich were far more likely to bullshit than poorer folks.
Now, the fact that bullshitting appears to be common trait in the United States might lead you to believe that Americans are the biggest BSers of them all, but you would be wrong. That award actually goes to their northern neighbors. That's right, of all the people surveyed, Canadians were more likely to be bullshitters than anybody else. Scots were overall the least likely to bullshit.
However, one key aspect of this study is that the survey was administered to 15-year-old high school students. Researchers felt that age was sufficient for them to presume that the subjects' traits would carry through into adulthood, but that might not be entirely true. We've all changed quite a bit since we were 15, right?
Regardless, the next time you encounter a rich Canadian man boasting about his superior math skills, maybe exercise a little bit of skepticism.