Bluffing your way through life should be seen as a skill… because people who bluster past tricky questions are SMART, researchers say

  • Researchers found bluffing is sign of intelligence and should be regarded as skill
  • Experts from university in Canada gave student group a list of words or phrases
  • Some were made up and students were asked to give their definition on the spot
  • Study found most convincing answers came from students who performed well on intelligence test and that they were judged to be more intelligent by others

It may be tempting to assume that someone who bluffs their way through life does so through lack of intelligence.

But people who are able to bluster their way around tricky questions are actually very smart, researchers have found.

Bluffing should instead be regarded as an evolved skill which allows people to navigate complex social environments, they said.

And as well as a sign of intelligence, it may even help impress others.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada gave hundreds of students a list of words or phrases, some of which were completely made up.

These trick concepts included ‘subjunctive scaling’ and ‘declarative fraction’, which do not actually exist.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada have found that those who are good at bluffing also performed well on intelligence tests suggesting two skills are linked (file photo)

The students were asked to provide a definition for all the concepts, whether they had heard of them or not, which was then judged by a separate group of students to evaluate how convincing they were.

The most persuasive answers came from students who had scored best on intelligence tests, the researchers found.

The study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, says that the ability to bluff ‘is associated with an individual’s intelligence’.

It reads: ‘We interpret these results as adding evidence for intelligence being geared towards the navigation of social systems.

Study found bluffing should be regarded as an evolved skill which indicates intelligence and allows people to navigate complex social environments such as a job interview (file photo)

‘The ability to produce satisfying bulls*** may serve to assist individuals in negotiating their social world, both as an energetically efficient strategy for impressing others and as an honest signal of intelligence.’

The researchers said if our brains have evolved to manipulate information about social relationships, then it is plausible that intelligent people will produce bluffs of a higher quality as a means of navigating their social surroundings.

They also found those who were better at bluffing were judged by others to be more intelligent.

‘From the perspective of navigating social systems, being perceived as intelligent may be just as valuable…as actually being intelligent,’ the study said.

‘This perception may afford one opportunities to obtain status and form relationships as well as have greater trust placed in their competence.’

The researchers concluded that bluffing can be used as a strategy to reach a certain goal ‘at a much smaller cost’ than the long and tricky process of actually learning a skill.

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