Results of Behavioral Segmentation Study

Results from the survey instrument of the first part of Project Meta are now available. This post will outline the ABCs of social science research and how Test Pilot fits in, the goals and importance of this preliminary quantitative study, the study design, and the results and implications. This video describes the behavioral segmentation in depth.

When conducting research in social psychology, researchers are often interested in attitudes, behaviors, and cognition.  Attitudes are one’s reaction toward something, usually exhibited in one’s beliefs or feelings. Behaviors are the actual actions that an individual performs, e.g. clicks on a certain part of an interface or browser chrome. Cognition refers to how one thinks and acquires knowledge.

In the current study, I used Test Pilot to measure users’ attitudes via a survey instrument and to log behaviors in the form of browser interaction data. Cognition will be measured in a subsequent qualitative study. The overarching goal of this study was to create a preliminary Firefox user typology based on the secondary research outlined in the previous post. I sought to answer the question of who uses Firefox, in terms of demographics and self-identified expertise levels, and how do they use it, in terms of actual interaction with the browser.

The survey measured four psychological factors (latter three from Johnson & Kupla, 2007): privacy (cookies, companies’ use of browsing info), sociability (meeting new people online, ‘friending’), utility (using the internet primarily for work or primarily for fun), and reciprocity (passive vs. active browsing, need for complexity). In addition, the survey measured satisfaction, engagement, and various advanced demographic data. The behavioral data measured interaction with the browser chrome, such as clicks on a + to open a new tab, etc. The survey data was linked via an anonymous ID to the behavioral data enabling attitudes and beliefs to be linked to behaviors and actions. The following results describe the major findings from 3701 survey responses. I used Python in combination with R to analyze and visualize the data.


  1. Users who enjoy complexity love Firefox; others are significantly less satisfied. The largest difference in satisfaction is between high reciprocity and low reciprocity users.
  2.  Privacy-oriented users and users who prefer to browse for “fun” are more satisfied with Firefox than their counterparts, but this difference is less significant than difference in reciprocity.
  3. “Low utility” users, who believe the Internet should be used primarily for fun, are the most engaged with Firefox. They tend to use fewer other browsers in combination with Firefox. No other factor showed a significant difference in engagement.
  4. There is no difference in satisfaction or engagement between high and low groups in sociability. Sociability is the only one of the four factors which showed no significant differences in either satisfaction or engagement.
  5. Country comparison. Users in the USA are more privacy oriented and tend to like complexity more than those in other countries. Satisfaction is higher with Firefox in the US than in other countries, but engagement is almost the same. Sociability and utility is higher in other countries than the USA. See below plot.


6.  Satisfaction by self-ID expertise. Expert users are significantly more satisfied with Firefox than intermediate ones, and intermediate users are much more satisfied than beginner ones. See below plot.

Satisfaction by self-identified expertise level


7.  Psychological factors by self-ID expertise. Users become more privacy oriented, more comfortable with complexity, and use the Internet for more social activities as their expertise with Firefox increases. Users view the Internet as used primarily for fun than for work as they go from beginner to expert users. See below plot.

Psychological factor by self-identified expertise


The results of this study will feed into ongoing and future qualitative and quantitative work aimed to understand Firefox users. Future research will look into the link between the survey data and behavioral data, as well as examine the behavioral data in depth. Further research could test if the findings hold on a representative sample of Firefox users, if users in different groups (e.g. high privacy vs. low privacy) exhibit different behaviors, and future qualitative research such as diary studies and fieldwork can provide deep insights into these factors as well as user cognition.

One comment on “Results of Behavioral Segmentation Study”

  1. Zen wrote on

    Does the team actually do any research of what users want?
    How hard would it be to make an official theme so firefox V17 or what ever it is up to this week can look like a previous version that the user likes. (V3.6) there are hundreds of other high quality themes but I just want a nice looking default without things moving around (home buttons) or disappearing (forward button, http at start of address, status bar)
    Imagine if you went and serviced your car and all the controls were moved around by the mechanic at a whim because he read on facebook the latest trend is to use the gearstick under your seat and the rear view mirror only shows up when you are changing lanes or in reverse.

    Basically, if I upgrade and have to change the way that I use a program every time it is updated I’m going to go looking for something else. This is probably part of the reason why chrome’s market share is going up at the expense of firefox.

    I have tried upgrading a couple of times but I keep going back to 3.6 I’d like to keep the “retro” interface with all the under the hood improvements.

    well thanks for reading..