People who respond relatively slowly to questions are more likely to be viewed by those around them as liars than others. At least one French study indicates this Her findings have been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Therefore, the length of the frequency influences the validity of the answer.
Lead author and psychologist Ignazio Ziano of Grenoble École de Management explains that “assessing the integrity of others is an important part of social interactions”. “Our research shows that reaction speed is an important indicator on which people base their conclusions about honesty.”
Specifically, Xianu and psychologist Deming Wang from James Cook University in Singapore conducted a series of experiments with more than 7,500 participants from the USA, Great Britain and France. Meanwhile, people were either listening to an audio snippet, watching a video, or reading a report on someone who answered a simple question – like whether they liked a friend’s cake or stole money from work.
In each scenario, the response time varied from immediate to ten seconds. Then the participants rated the validity of the answer on a scale. Across all 14 trials, late responses were consistently rated as less honest, regardless of whether it was a harmless question about cake or a serious question about stealing. A two-second delay was enough for the answer to be seen as dishonest. With a five-second pause, the effect again increased significantly.
Those who thought hard were less likely to be liars
But psychologists have also noted factors that reduced the effect. For example, if an answer was viewed as socially desirable – say, to a question whether you liked a friend’s cake – then responsiveness did not play a major role in perceived honesty. The effect was also reduced when participants believed that the slow response was due to mental exertion, for example when asked if someone had stolen sweets ten years earlier.
“Whenever people interact, they judge the sincerity of the other.”
(Ignazio Ziano, psychologist)
For lead author Ziano, the study has far-reaching consequences: “When people interact, they judge the honesty of others. These results can be applied to many interactions, from conversations at work to spouses and friends who quarrel.” Or job interviews and court hearings.