Credulity

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Definition

Description

Credulity is a state of willingness to believe in one or many people or things in the absence of reasonable proof or knowledge.

Credulity is not simply belief in something that may be false. The subject of the belief may even be correct, but a credulous person will believe it without good evidence.

The words gullible and credulous are commonly used as synonyms. Goepp & Kay (1984) state that while both words mean "unduly trusting or confiding", gullibility stresses being duped or made a fool of, suggesting a lack of intelligence, whereas credulity stresses uncritically forming beliefs, suggesting a lack of skepticism. Jewell (2006) states the difference is a matter of degree: the gullible are "the easiest to deceive", while the credulous are "a little too quick to believe something, but they usually aren't stupid enough to act on it."

Yamagishi, Kikuchi & Kosugi (1999) characterize a gullible person as one who is both credulous and naïve. Greenspan (2009) stresses the distinction that gullibility involves an action in addition to a belief, and there is a cause-effect relationship between the two states: "gullible outcomes typically come about through the exploitation of a victim's credulity.

See also