Some research studies have provocative answers.
Researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University wrote a paper on a study they did on 100 undergraduate psychology students. These were not dumb students, either – most of them were science or engineering majors and very familiar with computers.
They had the students complete a questionnaire and a personality assessment and also supply their email addresses.
Then the researchers, as researchers like to do sometimes, set out to con them.
Students were sent a phishing email which offered them the chance to win a prize if they clicked a link and filled out a form containing personal information.
The email was written the way many fake emails are written, with clues that it shouldn’t be taken seriously: the email was sent from a false "from" address, and the letter contained spelling and grammatical errors.
The results were surprising.
17 percent fell for the phishing scam.
And the most vulnerable were neurotic women.
But let’s be clear about the word "neurotic". I don’t want to hear about you guys gloating and sharing this with the women in your life: "See, it’s you neurotic women!"
"Neurotic" in this context is a psychological term for a personality trait that indicates a person is more likely to be anxious or depressed and respond negatively to stress.
It may also be that these types of women have more open personalities and tend to share more information online, which makes them more prone to become a phishing victim.
More research is needed.
– Study links phishing vulnerabilities to personality traits, IDG News Service, Computerworld>>
– Image is a detail of a painting by the pinup artist Edward Runci, The Pinup Files>>