Study: Pausing before answering suggests insincerity

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Christina @ on Unsplash

According to a recent study published in the ‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology', researchers have explained that pausing before answering tells a lot about a person’s personality – a pause speaks louder than words.

Multiple studies support this claim and have shown that when a person is insincere or dishonest, it takes them longer to think about the answer, especially if they hide the truth or come up with an alternative answer.

Some studies, however, suggest the opposite. When someone takes time to respond, they usually think more profoundly of the scenarios and the people involved and try to pose less damage without appearing insincere. However, there are minimal studies on understanding the correlation between the time taken to respond and the intentions of an individual.

In an extensive recent study involving fourteen sets of tests and experiments on more than 7500 people from the US, UK, and France, researchers attempted to study the correlation of slow responses under different circumstances. All the experiments were designed to understand how the participants responded to slow responses under two unrelated events.

One was based on understanding whether or not somebody liked the cake their friend baked, and the next was related to a crime scene at the workplace. The participants either heard, read, or watched snippets related to the two events and were asked to rate the sincerity of the event they observed.

The team behind the experiment observed a common trend among the participants: they rated the immediate responses as honest and the delayed responses, even if as little as delayed by two seconds, as dishonest. Therefore, this study suggests that most people judge the sincerity or insincerity of others based on the speed at which they respond.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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