3 Actions People Think of As Most Stupid

What makes most people stupid? Why do we call certain actions stupid irrespective of their cognitive abilities? From the first psychological investigation that placed interest on why and when people call certain actions stupid, researchers enjoy us to refrain from undertaking risky tasks for which we have little or no knowledge about.

From the research which makes us understand the norms people use in evaluating behavior, published in the journal Intelligence; Balazs Aczel and his colleagues found out that, people use the word ‘stupid’ for three separate categories of actions.

Researchers gathered online news stories (from New York Times, BBC and TMZ) containing descriptions of stupid behaviors. In addition, they also got stories from 26 university students that took a 5-day diary of incidents involving people acting stupidly. 180 stories were eventually gathered, a small number of which they deliberately manipulated after roughly condensed to two-sentence long each, to alter the consequences of the stupid actions and the responsibility level of the perpetrator.

To further the research, the stories were shown to 154 undergrads in Hungary. Using some psychological factors, the students rated the intensity of the stupidity on display.

The researchers then came up with three main psychological factors i.e. what people consider to be stupidity after thorough vetting the students’ scores.

[ttshare]3 Actions People Think of As Most Stupid[/ttshare]

  • Confident ignorance

Used when people go for risky actions for which they lack the prerequisite skills or knowledge. Confident ignorance got the highest ratings of stupidity from the students.

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Researchers narrated the story of burglars who thought they were stealing mobile phones, but actually stole GPS tracking devices which enabled the police to track them.

  • Lack of control

This is addictive behaviour making people unable to quit or settle for more reasonable thing i.e. being enslaved to a thing you know isn’t of the utmost importance. This category was ranked second during the research. Researchers shared a story of person who cancelled a meet up with a good friend because they couldn’t pull themselves away from a video game.

  • Absentmindedness – Lack of practicality

For instance, being reluctant to practice or failing a practical task. Researchers say this could be result of distraction or lack of practical skills i.e. inflating car tires too far.

This research has some limitations e.g. if it will be generally accepted. Because, it’s just judgments of a group of students in Hungary. the research however maybe beneficial to the study of intelligent behavior.

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“the study of intelligent behaviour may benefit from understanding its flipside, unintelligent behaviour, which in turn may be inherently linked to our conception of stupid actions,” researchers said.

Aczel, B., Palfi, B., & Kekecs, Z. (2015). What is stupid? People’s conception of unintelligent behavior, 53, 51-58 DOI:

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