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Using an old browser may indicate low IQ: Study

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

Recent studies suggest individuals at the lower end of the (IQ) scale tend to keep using outdated versions of web browsers. The study was conducted by Canada-based AptiQuant, which deals with online psychometric testing for recruitment, career guidance, career management, and staff development.

Because cognitive scores are related to tech-savviness, researchers hypothesised that the choice of web browser is related to an individual's cognitive ability. They used data from a trial to calculate the IQ scores of people using a variety of different browsers. A Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test was conducted on more than 100,000 people over four weeks.

A significant number of individuals with a low score on the cognitive test were found to be using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) versions 6.0 to 9.0. There was no significant difference in IQ scores of people using Google Chrome, and Apple's Safari. However, on average, it was higher than IE users. Individuals using Opera, and IE with Chrome Frame scored a little higher than others.

The data supported the hypothesis that IQ scores and the choice of web browser are related. “Our data have important implications and identify reasons behind the continuous use of outdated browsers that has been bugging web developers and information companies since the last decade. The results were also compared to a similar, unreleased study in 2006. The average IQ score of the individuals using the then current version of IE was significantly higher than individuals using the current version of IE, implying a lot of people with higher IQs are moving away from IE to other browsers,” explains an white paper.

The procedure was simple. An online IQ assessment test was offered on the website. Most subjects came to the website either by organic searches from search engines, or advertisements put on various search engines for keywords targeting users looking for a free online IQ test. The subjects were notified that some personal information would be collected and stored for a research study, but they were not aware about the nature of the study.

When a visitor came to the home page of the IQ test, he was asked for his gender and age. All under-16 visitors were redirected to another website, and their scores were not included in the study. After filling in the gender and age, the visitors were taken to a second page, where they took the actual IQ test. The scores were stored in a database with the user’s age, gender, browser, operating system, and geographic location determined from the IP address.

There was a clear trend that subjects, on an average, using any version of IE ranked significantly lower than others. “Out of all the IE versions, subjects using IE 8 fared a little better. No significant difference in the IQ scores of subjects using Chrome, Firefox and Safari was noticed however, these subjects had, on an average, a higher IQ score than IE users. Individuals using Opera, and IE with Chrome Frame scored a little higher than others,” the paper says.

From the test results, it was clear that individuals on the lower side of the IQ scale tend to resist a change or an upgrade of their browsers. This hypothesis, the paper concludes, can be extended to any software.

First Published: Tue, August 02 2011. 00:23 IST