New Study Helps Define “Stupidity”

By Lee Ann Santore

The word stupid is used daily to describe a wide variety of actions. However, it is unclear of what constitutes something as stupid. A team of psychologists led by Balazs Aczel, from the Institute of Psychology at Eotvos Lorand University, completed a study to obtain a better understanding of the behavior patterns humans regard as “stupid.” Aczel’s team compiled a collection of sample stories that portrayed characters committing actions that could be deemed stupid. Over 150 subjects were asked to read these stories and fill out questionnaires that asked whether or not they believed the act was stupid, and, if so, on a scale of 1-10, rate the magnitude of stupidity. 90% of the participants were in agreement on which acts should be considered stupid. Displaying acts of “confident ignorance,” overestimating one’s ability, had the highest stupidity rating. This research gives insight into why humans behave in certain ways; we strive to not be perceived as stupid.

1. R. A. Ferdman, How to act less stupid, according to psychologists. The Washington Post, (2015).

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