It may actually unlock your psyche. Because, when you choose a password, you pick something that'll stick in your mind, so you may unconsciously choose something of particular emotional significance. The researchers at City University in London found that there are four main password "genres." Psychologist Dr. Helen Petrie, who led the study, says computer passwords are "a 21st century Rorschach inkblot test." So, we've listed the four genres - find out which one you fall into.

  • The "family-oriented" genre. More than half of computer users will fall into this category. These people select their own name or nickname, the name of a child, partner or pet, or a birth date. They tend to be occasional computer users and have strong family ties.
  • The "fan" category. One-third of us use the names of athletes, singers, movie stars, fictional characters or sports teams. Two of the most popular names used are Madonna and Homer Simpson.
  • The "fantasist" category. Just 11% of us fall into this one. These are people who use passwords like "muscleman", "goddess", "Pumped in Poughkeepsie." Basically they're fantasizing that they're greater, hotter, and more attractive than they really are. But, it's mostly males in this category.
  • The "cryptic" genre. 10% of computer users are lumped into this category because they pick unintelligible passwords, such as JXA157. This is the most security-conscious group. They tend to make the safest choices, but also the least interesting.

So what does all this mean? Well, according to the doctor, passwords are revealing for two reasons. First, they're generated on the spot. Since you're focused on getting into the system, you're likely to put down the first thing that comes to mind. It's revealing in the same way "word association" is. Passwords tap into things that are just below the surface of our consciousness. Also, to remember your password you pick something that'll stick in your mind. So, you pick things that are significant to you. Take another look at your password and see what it says about you!

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