According to a research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people judge slower responses as less sincere than quicker replies. Across 14 experiments, a total of 7,565 participants in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France listened to, watched, or read an account of people responding to various questions. Lag time for responses ranged from immediate to 10 seconds later. In all experiments, participants rated slower responses as less sincere, regardless of the gravity of the question. Also, the longer the hesitation, the less sincere the answer appeared.
When answers were considered socially unacceptable or thought to require more mental effort or when participants were instructed not to pay attention to response speed, the effect was reduced, but still present. The researchers suggest that people perceive slower responses to be the result of the responder suppressing automatic, truthful thoughts and contriving a novel answer.
As an example, imagine asking a friend why they did not return your missed call, and your friend almost immediately answering: “Sorry, I was in back-to-back meetings all afternoon.” Now imagine the same scenario with one difference: The response was delivered after a slight delay. For most people, the delayed response would be considered less truthful.
Indeed, these research findings suggest that longer response times are often attributed to the responder suppressing a raw, instinctive, and truthful response and fabricating a lie.
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