Passwords are a window into the soul.
The tech-age equivalent of an ink blot test, our passwords reveal our most spontaneous thoughts, our deepest memories and our dearest allegiances, said British psychologist Dr Helen Petrie in 2001.
“Passwords tap into things that are just below the surface of consciousness, much the way Rorschach and word association tests do,” Dr Petrie said after analysing more than a thousand secret words and phrases.
If you think that’s a bit over the top, consider what French neuropsychologist Francis Eustache said recently in support of Dr Petrie’s theory. He described passwords as “liberation for the unconscious mind”.
“For some, those eight characters can be a way to exorcise old demons, the name of an absent father or a connection to the country we left as a child,” Dr Eustache recently told World Crunch.
Here’s what your password reveals about you.
You’re a people person
Most people select their passwords based on their own name or nickname, the name of a child, partner or pet, or a birth date, Dr Petrie found.
“They choose passwords that symbolise people or events with emotional value,” Dr Petrie said.
These users tended to use digital devices only occasionally, and had strong family ties.
You’re a simple soul (or very time poor)
You probably have some variation of sequential numbers (‘123456’ or ‘000000’), a very obvious word (‘password’ or ‘access’) or something right in front of your nose (‘qwerty’).
These are some of the most common passwords, tech firm SplashData found in last year’s annual report.
Blue has also been identified as the most popular colour used in passwords, possibly because it is used widely by social media sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter.
So you may be fixating on whatever is close at hand.
You’re a diehard fan
In Dr Petrie’s study, one-third of respondents were “fans” who gravitated to the names of athletes, singers, movie stars, fictional characters or sport teams.
Passwords like ‘baseball’ and ‘football’ were in the top 10 in SplashData’s study, and ‘hockey’, ‘soccer’ and ‘golfer’ were in the top 100, along with American sport teams ‘yankees’, ‘eagles’, ‘steelers’, ‘rangers’ and ‘lakers’.
It’s easy to predict that sports-loving Aussie fans would follow suit.
Superman and Batman also ranked in the top 25, film names were consistently popular, and the ‘mustang’ muscle car also appeared high in the list.
You’re kinky as all hell
Dr Petrie identified another group called ‘fantasists’ who favoured passwords like ‘sexy’ and ‘stud’.
Apart from having healthy self-esteem, this group, who made up 11 per cent of her respondents, clearly enjoyed a good time.
SplashData found a similar cohort, with the suggestive ‘696969’ and the potentially 50 Shades of Grey-inspired ‘master’ ranked in the top 30.
You’re a super spy
In a recent interview, former NSA agent Edward Snowden gave his idea of the supreme password – something longer, quirky enough to remember and very difficult to guess.
He was chatting to US funny man John Oliver, who offered the creative ‘passwerd’ and ‘onetwothreefour’.
Mr Snowden, an exile in Russia, proved his tech prowess with: ‘MargaretThatcherIs100%SEXY’.
A jarring mental picture, no doubt, and sure to never be suspected.
“Cryptics” was Dr Petrie’s description of this elite group of computer users, who formed the smallest (10 per cent) sample in her study.
If you choose random strings of letters, numbers and symbols (or bizarre phrases with unexpected capitalisation) then count yourself among the class of uber nerds.