EDMONTON, Alberta – While hastily entering his 23 character, alpha-numeric password with special characters, area man Brock Burchette made a typo on the 5th character, but continued to try and login anyhow.
Well, I know that the 5th character in my password is a uppercase K, but I was certain that I didn’t hold down the Shift key in time to get the caps. But something compelled me to continue typing the other 18 or so characters and press Enter even though I knew that my password would be rejected.
It turns out that Brock is not alone. In a recent survey conducted by the National Password Registry, it was reported that roughly half of North Americans (46%) will continue to login into a system after recognizing that a typo was made, and some have continued even after making a mistake typing in their username. The Registry’s chair, Dr. Dara Woodall, attributes this behavior to some form of psychological disorder.
We found it very interesting that it is more likely for a person to abort the login if the typo was made near the end of the password, which is counter-intuitive. But when a typo is made early, people feel obliged to continue for the sake of at least giving a solid effort. And the study showed that to some people, it was a matter of denying that a typo was actually made, even though the subject would later admit to being certain a typo was made. It is as though they had some sort of wishful thinking that the personal computer would somehow magically accept their mis-typed password.
In some rare instances, we have witnessed (interestingly enough at our organization) users lose it once a typo has been made after which they “go crazy” in a fit of temporary insanity by continuing to mash, rather than gently type, a password that is completely random with excessive force on the keys. – Dr. Woodall
Dr. Woodall and her organization plan to continue researching the psychology behind this phenomenon in order to develop therapies to help those afflicted with this condition. She believes that the time wasted by continuing to login with passwords that contain a typo is costing North American business billions of dollars in lost productivity.
Brock Burchette has registered to typing lessons to help him overcome his typing login issues.