bullshit is the poop of bulls and cows. It has another more commonly used meaning: It is used for exaggerations. In the psychological research of deception, it is about embellishing and stretching the truth to make a better impression. A bullshitter is a person who tells bullshit.

Bullshitting is a form of lying, but in this research area, lying and bullshitting have important differences (see more below).

Littrell and colleagues (2020) developed a Bullshitting Frequency Scale to find out how often a person tells bullshit

Lying vs Bullshitting

According to the Littrell and colleagues (2020), lying and bullshitting are different. Undstanding this difference is a bit difficult to follow arguably. Both everyday lying and everyday bullshitting are acts of lying, but bullshitters are less concerned about whether or not they are actually believed. For example, people might exegerate and just want to impress. An example can be a lie such as "Everyday I eat 30 hamburgers, I love them". An example of a true lie can be: "I definitely did my homework, but I lost it" (being believed is here critically important to evade punishment).

Scores in population

The following data are take from the Littrell and colleagues (2020) study 2 with 317 adults from 18 to 73 years old. These data are openly accessible here.

Type Possible range Average score

BSF overall

1 to 5


Persuasive bullshitting (BFSp)

1 to 5


Evasive bullshitting (BSFe)

1 to 5


Note, no gender differences were apparent in these data.


On the OSF webpage (see references), this recommendation is given: "Depending on the goals of the study, for analyses using linear regression models, we recommend entering both subscales (BSFp and BSFe) as separate predictors to account for overlapping variance (as individuals tend to engage in both types of BSing in their daily lives), rather than using an overall bullshitting (BSF) score as a single predictor."

Run the demo

It seems that the BSF can be used for research, but you need to acknowledge the authors and their research paper when writing about it (References).


This is a simple scale question with two subscales. Items should be presented in random order.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: bfsscale
- Never
- Rarely
- Occasionally / Sometimes
- Frequently
- A lot / All the time

l: bfsintro
t: info
q: *Instructions:* On the following page, you will be given a number of
statements that describe various situations people often encounter in
their day-to-day lives when interacting and communicating with others.
On a scale from "Never" to "All the time," please indicate how
frequently you embellish, exaggerate, or otherwise stretch the truth
just a little when interacting with other people. You do not need to
recall specific instances, though that might be helpful to you; just
think about how often you do these things (or how likely you are to do
them) in general.
It’s important that we get accurate information about real human
behaviour, so please re spond honestly. Your responses are completely
Click continue to start the twelve items.

l: bfs
t: scale bfsscale
o: random
o: buildup
q: Please indicate how frequently you embellish, exaggerate, or otherwise stretch the truth just a little when interacting with other people.
- When I want to impress the person or people I'm talking to.
- When I want others to see me as more intelligent or knowledgeable.
- When I want to contribute to a conversation or discussion even though I’m not well informed on the topic.
- By pretending to know more about a topic than I actually do.
- When I'm trying to fit in better or be more accepted by the person or people I'm interacting with.
- When I know it will be easy to get away with it.
- When I want the thing(s) I'm talking about to sound more interesting or exciting.
- When I’m trying to persuade someone to change their mind or agree with what I’m saying.
- When being fully honest would be harmful or embarrassing to me or someone else.
- When a direct answer might get me in trouble.
- When I don't want to tell someone what I really think.
- When a direct answer would hurt another person's feelings

l: bfsp
t: set
- mean $bfs.1 $bfs.2 $bfs.3 $bfs.4 $bfs.5 $bfs.6 $bfs.7 $bfs.8

l: bfse
t: set
- mean $bfs.9 $bfs.10 $bfs.11 $bfs.12

l: bfstotal
t: set
- calc ( $bfsp + $bfse ) / 2

l: bsffeedback
t: info
q: Scores can range from 1 to 5.
Your scores on the Bullshitting Frequency Scale are as follows:
Persuasive bullshitting: {$bfsp}
Evasive bullshitting: {$bfse}
Overall bullshitting: {$bfstotal}