By Jack Linshi
April 1, 2015

Searching the Internet may inflate your perception of how knowledgeable you are, a new study says.

Researchers found that participants using Google search to answer specific questions believed they could later answer unrelated questions more accurately, according to a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online Monday.

Even when participants couldn’t find answers on the Internet, they still felt an increased self-assessment of how much knowledge they had. As a result, people may unintentionally exaggerate how much information they can recall on their own, the study said.

“It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source,” said lead researcher Matthew Fisher of Yale University. “When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet.”

The study adds to existing research that suggests searching the Internet for information creates an increase in “cognitive self-esteem,” though not necessarily an increase in intelligence.

Read next: 11 Google Tricks That Will Change the Way You Search

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