If you’re gullible, you are, according to the dictionary definition, ‘easily fooled or cheated’ and ‘quick to believe something that is not true’.
Experts have long seen a relationship between ‘gullibility’ and ‘credulity’ or ‘trust’, where being gullible means someone is easy to deceive, while being credulous or trusting means they may be a little to quick to believe something ‘but usually aren’t stupid enough to act on it’ (according to my Pocket Oxford Dictionary & Thesaurus).
So how do you make sure you're not as easily taken in as Little Red Riding Hood?
- Listen to your body. ‘Knots in your stomach, heart racing – your body is telling you something isn’t right, even if your mind isn’t giving you the warning,’ says psychologist Anjula Mutanda.
- Take your time on big decisions – sleep on it or ask a trusted friend for their opinion. Remember, if someone is rushing you, that may be reason in itself to be more sceptical.
- Be aware of gullibility ‘hot-spots’. Break-ups, illness, bereavement – these can make us vulnerable and maybe more prone to being overly trusting. Enlist a sceptical friend for support, if needed.
- Steer clear of high gullibility situations. If you’re a sucker for smooth-talking salesmen, then buy online. If telemarketers reel you in, get caller ID and don’t answer ‘unknown’ calls.
- Learn to disengage. ‘Thank you, but I’m not interested’ is a very useful phrase. The more you use it, the easier it’ll get.
- In any given situation, think, ‘Do I have enough information about this?’ This is about reserving judgement until you have more proof.
- Think about cost and reward. Approach a situation thinking, ‘Is this going to cost me more than it’s going to reward me?’ Balance it out and if it doesn’t add up, don’t do it.