Internet Explorer users have low Risk Intelligence (RQ)

A hoax report earlier this year claimed that people who used Internet Explorer had a lower IQ than those using other browsers. Inspired by this bit of fun, Projection Point decided to carry out a poll to compare the risk intelligence (RQ) of people using different browsers. We found that Internet Explorer users performed worse than everyone else; they had lower RQ scores and were grossly overconfident.

We define Risk Intelligence as the ability to estimate probabilities accurately. Our Basic RQ Test consists of fifty statements—some true, some false—and your task is to say how likely you think it is that each statement is true. It’s a simple process; if you are absolutely sure that a statement is true, you assign a probability of 100 percent to it. If you are convinced that a statement is false, you should assign it a probability of 0 percent. If you have no idea at all whether it is true or false, you should rate it as 50 percent probable. If you are fairly sure that it is true but you aren’t completely sure, you would give it 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent, or 90 percent, depending on how sure you are. Conversely, if you are reasonably confident that it is false but you aren’t completely sure, you would give it 40 percent, 30 percent, 20 percent, or 10 percent.

When you have estimated the likelihood of all fifty statements in the test, the website will calculate your risk intelligence quotient, or RQ, a number between 0 and 100. Although our small sample size of 351 participants does not permit strong conclusions, they do suggest an interesting possibility; users of monopoly software (that historically has been responsible for many of the most severe software vulnerabilities) are not as good at estimating probabilities as their more adventurous counterparts. Perhaps the use of Microsoft Internet Explorer should be considered an indicator of poor risk intelligence. This would be consistent with studies showing that the computers of Internet Explorer users contain more malicious software than the machines of those using other browsers, that about 7% of downloads by Internet Explorer users are malicious and that the browser is amongst the most popular means of infecting Windows machines (this holds especially true for older versions). Although Microsoft’s efforts are slowly changing vulnerability trends for the better, these findings should come as no surprise given the company’s attention to security in the past: “Many of the products we designed [...] have been less secure than they could have been because we were designing with features in mind rather than security. [...] In the past we sold new applications on the strength of new features, most of which people didn’t use.” – Chief Research and Strategy Officer at Microsoft, Craig Mundie (2002).

Right now it looks like Apple users are the best when it comes to dealing with risk, a skill that should come in quite handy considering that Mac OS X was the first system to go down during the Pwn2Own hacking contest of 2011. But only time, a larger sample size and careful scrutiny may validate our observations.


The test can be found at:
A mobile version of the test for Android and iPhones can be found here.

49 thoughts on “Internet Explorer users have low Risk Intelligence (RQ)

      • Despite Opera having only a few per cent of the market I have a hunch that if a larger study was carried out your results might be very different.

        My reason for that is that my site statistics for downloads of my latest book “The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” a free download the “Unusual Perspectives” website. indicate that month after month around 85% of them were by Opera users.

        So it seems that the users of that browser must have (on average) some distinguishing characteristic.

        Since the book appeals most to those having an interest in science and also a capability to “think outside the square”

        I can only assume that it is either or both of these qualities which skews the distribution so enormously.

    • I used to live using Opera. Until Opera’s makers got into bed with Microsoft and made a specially censored version of opera for the Chinese.

      Then I abandoned them faster than waking up beside a dead animal.

    • I use Opera browser. I took the test twice. Both times when I attempted to view the results page the browser crashed (or froze). I will not try to take the test a third time.

      p.s. Since Opera is fully compliant with standards, I have to assume the problem is with your website.

      • Thank you for your feedback. Our site has been tested and confirmed to work with Opera, however we are under a heavy load right now. We apologize for any inconveniences that this may have caused you.

        In future, please direct technical queries to

  1. “Right now it looks like Apple users are the best when it comes to dealing with risk”
    Perfect proof that your “real study” is either completely fake or you don’t even have a clue what real statistical analysis of a survey looks like.


      It must suck, having your ego tied to your computer choices. If you were a whole human being, you could say, ‘gee, I’m glad I buck that particular trend!’

    • @Olivier: Unfortunately our sample size was too small. We didn’t have any Konqueror users. Anyway, keep in mind that this isn’t a scientifically valid study ;-)

  2. Why don’t you guys ever test Opera along with IE,FF,CHROME,SAFARI? – Opera has been around longer than Chrome / Safari and Firefox.. come one guys..

  3. It would be interesting to see min/max, median, standard deviation, (relative) sample size, etc and an explanation of k-factor for the uninitiated.

  4. Now on to methodology, please.
    This stinks like utter crap. Not that IE does not deserve a bash. Esp. Chrome gets you into higher risk compared to firefox, I do not see a reflection of that in the data though – hoax I claim.

  5. And somehow … this smells like viral marketing for some RQ company trying to measure peoples “experience” and “skill” with quantitative tools, should I laugh loud now or just a little and grin and move on.

    p.s.: earlier this month /. reported that the US wanted to shut down/reduce university degrees that do not result into people having jobs. Not that I am on their side, but guess which discipline would get the biggest cuts: Psychology! I had to laugh.

  6. The test is beyons useless anyway. Just two questions suffice to show the nonsense-level:

    * How useful is a test where you score 100% simply by selecting “don’t know” (i.e. 50) to every question ?

    * The test claims to show how overconfident people are – however it doesn’t even attempt to measure this. How do I have to click in the test to end up as underconfident ?

    If you wanted to test overconfidence, you’d have to first ask what I think the answer is, (binary yes-no) then ask how sure I am that I got the answer correct (with 50% being the lower bound)

    “Uranus has more than 20 moons: yes/no” “I think there’s a 50/60/70/80/90/100% chance that I got this answer correct.

    So someone who actually got 70% right, but *thought* he had 90% right, would be overconfident, whereas someone with 90% right who thought he has 80% right would be underconfident.

    • Thank you for your comment. Answers to your queries (such as gaming the test by selecting 50% to every question) have been addressed on the results page. You may find additional information about the test in a chapter in the “Handbook of Risk Theory” (edited Sabine Roesser, Berlin:
      Springer) which is published this month. You can download a free copy of
      this chapter by following on this link:

  7. It would help if you checked that your answers are actually correct. For example, although Barack Obama is “the 44th president of the USA”, there weren’t 43 presidents before him; there were only 42 (Grover Cleveland is counted twice, because he served non-consecutive mandates). I suspect you merely checked Wikipedia, and didn’t actually go through the full list of presidents…

    Also, there is a word that rhymes with “orange” (Blorenge, which is a mountain in Wales).

    The “earthquake” question is also debatable (you don’t say if you’re counting only direct deaths or also indirect deaths, resulting from respiratory problems, contaminated water supplies, people who died while rescuing other people, etc., or what else you count as “natural disasters” – ex., is a pandemic a “natural disaster”?).

    And so on. I can say with a confidence of 95% that around 16% of your “correct” answers are in fact wrong.

  8. Test disappeared halfway through. It looks like the page tried to reload, but couldn’t do to network lag. The test disappeared and all I had left was a captcha, and the page never stopped trying to load; I had to kill it. I don’t intend to try taking this test again.

    Also, from your statistics table, I noticed that every single user of IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari was over-confident. Does that sound right to you? Isn’t there such thing as someone who is under-confident? Perhaps none of them had the guts to take your test?

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  10. Maybe the conclusion isn’t that users of other browsers have a higher RQ, s though there is some casuality in that direction, but that having a higher RQ makes people more likely to use alternatives to IE – and Windows.

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  17. Two notes:
    1) In the explanation for the answer to one of the problems, the phrase ‘improper fractions are always BIGGER than one’ is incorrect. -7/3 would be an example of an improper fraction which is not bigger than one.

    2) ‘Lightning kills less than 500 people per year.’ No. ‘Lightning kills fewer than 500 people per year.’ Factually false, perhaps, but grammatically correct.

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  22. It’s 2012 already. And Putin is Russia’s president ..again. Please fix this answer.
    And you have too few questions to recycle – few more times and I will complete it to 100 :)

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