July 30, 2011

Study: What Does Your Browser Choice Say About Your IQ?

Internet surfers who use Opera or Camino as their web browser of choice have a far higher IQ than those who use older versions of Microsoft-developed Internet Explorer software, a new study from Vancouver-based psychometric consulting firm AptiQuant claims.

The average IQ among Opera and Camino users were both well over 120, while those using Internet Explorer 6, which was released in 2001, scored an average of slightly over 80, and Internet Explorer 7 users did not fare much better. The results come from a series of free online intelligence tests taken by more than 100,000 subjects online, which were then averaged by software.

"The study showed a substantial relationship between an individual's cognitive ability and their choice of web browser," the researchers concluded in their report. "From the test results, it is a clear indication that individuals on the lower side of the IQ scale tend to resist a change/upgrade of their browsers."

According to Doug Gross of CNN.com, "Those numbers, it should be noted, probably aren't very scientific. The field of test-takers was self-selecting--people who chose, on their own, to take an IQ test instead of a scientifically selected study group. They found the test through Web searches or ads the company placed online."

Regardless, AptiQuant believes that their hypothesis can be applied to any type of software, not just web browsers. However, they note that additional research is required to confirm or disprove that theory, and that said research could eventually be completed as an extension to their initial research.

"Internet Explorer has traditionally been considered a pain in the back for web developers. Any IT company involved in web development will acknowledge the fact that millions of man hours are wasted each year to make otherwise perfectly functional websites work in Internet Explorer, because of its lack of compatibility with web standards," they continued, noting that "this latest report about the intelligence levels of IE users is expected to create a storm."

No doubt that will be the case, especially since, as Gross reports, the Microsoft-developed browsing software is the most used in the world, holding a 43% share compared to 30% for second-place Firefox and 19% for third place Chrome, according to StatCounter statistics.

The study also prompted a humorous response from some, including MSNBC.com blogger Helen A.S. Popkin, who suggested that anyone "still among the approximately 10.7 percent of the world on IE6--notoriously buggy and incompatible with pretty much everything except malware," the study should serve as "some science bound to make you embrace change."

"Meanwhile, as you're crafting your IE jokes (i.e. shooting fish in a barrel), you'll want to note that IE users overall were significantly smarter in 2006," she added. "That doesn't mean those same IE users are losing brain power"¦. It seems that while pretty much everybody hates change (when's the last time you saw Steve Jobs not wearing a black mock turtleneck?), those with higher IQs more readily embrace it. ('It,' in this case, being Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.)."

UPDATE: As of Saturday morning, AptiQuant was being threatened with a lawsuit by angry Internet Explorer users. Read more here.


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