What Does Your Web Browser Say About Your I.Q.? (Hint: I.E. Users Won’t Like the Answer)


See ADDENDUM (8-3-11; 9:13am EDT) below

A study by AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting finds that people who use Internet Explorer as their web browser are, on average, less smart than those who use other browers. As PC Mag reports:


Over a period of around four weeks, the company gave a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) to users looking for free online IQ assessment tests, then recorded the results and browsers used for all participants above the age of 16.

Across the board, the average IQ scores presented for users of Internet Explorer versions 6 through 9 were all lower than the IQ scores recorded for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Camino, and Opera users.

Furthermore, AptiQuant notes:

In addition, the results were compared to a previous unreleased study of a similar nature undertaken in 2006. The average IQ score of the individuals using the then-current version of IE was significantly higher than the individuals using the current version of IE now, implying that a lot of people with higher IQ are moving away from IE to other browsers.

There is of course much to quarrel with in such a study. Also: remember that IE is a Windows browser, so we are not talking about the Mac universe. As someone who used to use IE, I have to wonder: maybe it isn’t that less-smart people choose IE but that using IE is so frustrating that it robs people of IQ points?

This also reminds me of the research from a few years back about the socioeconomic level of MySpace users versus Facebook users — a finding that gets more and more interesting in retrospect.

(HT: Eric M. Jones)

ADDENDUM: It appears this study may have been a hoax.

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  1. BL1Y says:

    You’d probably find the same results by looking at people who use @aol.com e-mails versus @gmail.com.

    Isn’t IQ supposed to measure your capacity for learning? If so, it just makes sense that higher IQ people will adopt newer technologies and software.

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  2. jordan says:

    What about the effect that so many people use IE that the average is lower because of a larger sample size? Much like the effect Mac users benefit from because hackers have no incentive to go after 10% of the market share vs. 90% with PC.

    Also, it would be interesting to see if there was a social effect, like a social stigma, peer-pressure, or simply being trendy. Do I use Firefox because I’m smarter and/or dont like IE? or is it because I think I am supposed to because other people in my field use it?

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  3. Sonique says:

    People with a higher IQ will more than likely have more money. Confounding variable perhaps?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 12
    • Ryan says:

      All the major browsers are 100% free, so why?

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      • Matt says:

        But if you can’t afford a machine that supports a modern browser, or have a used one with IE6 on it…

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      • Tulika says:

        The only reason an older machine wouldn’t support an alternative browser would be an old OS. Even with something as old as Windows 95 you can get a version of Firefox to run (and run well) on it. Incidentally IE6 won’t run on Windows 95.

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  4. Caitlyn says:

    or that people with enough computer skills to find a decent browser are also better at online flash game type things…..I don’t know how they measured IQ, of course, but it does make me wonder

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    • Enter your name says:

      To find out how they measured IQ, try reading the sentence containing the words “the company gave a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) to users”.

      Then go look up the WAIS, and discover that it is a top-rated, standard IQ test, of exactly the sort you’d expect to be given if you went to an educational psychologist and asked to have your IQ measured.

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    • Gary says:

      The WAIS cannot be administered electronically, so I’d suspect one’s flash gaming ability wouldn’t be a factor in the resulting IQ scores. An IQ test of any reliability (and Wechsler’s are considered highly credible) can’t be administered on a computer, as one’s computer literacy would impact their scores.

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  5. Carley says:

    This, and more so the Facebook vs. MySpace article, also remind me of your findings relating to childrens’ names – that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds follow the trends of those who are better off.

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  6. Smash says:

    I wonder if there is a correlation with age – in my limited experience, seniors are more likely to use the well-known (and automatically installed) IE for web browsing than younger people. If adaptive learning and reasoning decreases with age, then the IQ scores of seniors may also drop compared to the national average.

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  7. TelliameD says:

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc?


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  8. Jim says:

    I would love to know which browsers are used by those visiting the Freakonomics website. That information is carried in the user agent string and should be simple to check for in the server logs.

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    • James says:

      Except that some browsers (the Opera that I use, for one) have an option to identify themselves as IE, in order to allow access to web pages that supposedly only support IE.

      Humm… Wonder if the study took this into account?

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