Google Makes You Think You’re Smarter Than You Are


You think you’re a pretty smart guy.


Nobody is as smart as they think they are. Not you. Not me. Definitely not this exemplar of the sovereign citizen movement. In fact, your use of Google may be making you think you’re smarter than you really are, according to this study (.pdf alert) by the Journal of Experimental Psychology.


Researchers asked 152 people a simple question: how does a zipper work? Half were allowed to search the answer online, the other half could not.

Afterwards, both groups were given another question: why are there more Atlantic hurricanes in August and September? They didn’t have to answer the question; they just had to say how confident they were that they’d be able to answer—and keep in mind, these questions have nothing to do with each other.


The group allowed access to a search engine for the first question was far more confident about being able to answer the second question, even though they no long had access to a search engine. These results were replicated with different questions, controlling for demographics.

The Takeaway

Don’t confuse your access to Google—or your smartphone apps, for that matter—for you. Besides, there are plenty of idiots who credit the University of Google with their deep and hilariously incorrect insights. So maybe keep that in mind the next time you reach for your smartphone.



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