Women better than men at understanding technical jargon

28 January 2013 - 16:58 By AFP Relaxnews

Men's stress levels go through the roof when confronted with terms such as 'algorithm' or 'phablet' with the majority finding them harder to understand than a foreign language.

The small in-depth neurological study of 16 subjects, commissioned by the Geek Squad, could eradicate once and for all the popular misapprehension that men are more ‘geeky' than women and have a natural affinity with technology. Its results show that women are naturally more comfortable than men with high-tech terminology.

When confronted with tech jargon, the stress and frustration levels of the study's male participants increased considerably. Their negative reactions to terms such as 'OS' and 'vlogging' were 138% higher than those of their female counterparts.

Of the results, neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis said: "Trying to understand a language you are not familiar with can be extremely frustrating for anyone. Most of us have been in a situation where we've found reading an instruction booklet for a new gadget as difficult as understanding a foreign language. The feeling of confusion causes our stress levels to rise steeply. When we don't understand something, we can become frustrated and emotional, explaining the increases in mental and physical arousal seen in our study."

Although potentially putting paid to the belief that women are afraid of technology, the results could also have the unforeseen consequence of reinforcing and explaining the origins of another stereotype -- that men think that they can operate a new gadget or device straight out of the box, without even a cursory glance at the operating manual.

As the Danish/British comedian Sandi Toksvig often says, the best way to keep information a secret from a husband or boyfriend is to put all of the files and documents in a folder clearly labelled ‘instruction manuals'.

According to the study, the top 10 most frustrating technical terms (for men, anyway), are:

1. Algorithm

2. Beta

3. Cache

4. Phablet

5. Vlogging

6. Phishing

7. ISP

8. Trojan

9. Geo-tagging

10. Back-end