If someone asks you a question and you pause before answering – even for just a few seconds – they will perceive your answer as less sincere and less likely to be truthful than if you answer right away, according to a study recently published by the American Psychological Association.
And the longer you hesitate, the less sincere your response will appear.
Researchers conducted a series of 14 experiments involving more than 7,500 people from the U.S., the U.K. and France. Participants either listened to short audio, viewed a video or read an account of a person responding to a simple question. In each scenario, his or her response time varied from immediate to a 10-second delay. Participants then rated the sincerity of the responses on a sliding scale.
In every experiment, participants consistently rated delayed responses as less sincere regardless of the question, whether it was a harmless one about whether the person liked a cake or not, or a more serious one about committing a crime.
“Evaluating other people’s sincerity is a ubiquitous and important part of social interactions,” said Ignazio Ziano, Ph.D., who led the study. “Our research shows that response speed is an important cue on which people base their sincerity inferences.”