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Having access to the internet makes us doubt how smart we are

And you thought they just made you ignore people.

Image: Shutterstock/oneinchpunch

PEOPLE WHO HAVE access to the internet are less willing to say they know something.

That is according to new research from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

The team asked 100 participants a series of general knowledge questions, such as the capital of France. Participants only said whether they knew the answer or not.

For half of the study, participants had access to the internet. They had to look up the answer when they responded that they did not know the answer. In the other half of the study, participants did not have access to the internet.

The team found that the people who had access to the web were about 5% more likely to say that they did not know the answer to the question.

Furthermore, in some contexts, the people with access to the internet reported feeling as though they knew less compared to the people without access.

“With the ubiquity of the Internet, we are almost constantly connected to large amounts of information. And when that data is within reach, people seem less likely to rely on their own knowledge,” said Professor Evan Risko, Canada Research Chair in Embodied and Embedded Cognition.

“Our results suggest that access to the Internet affects the decisions we make about what we know and don’t know.”

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