Science Gazette

When individuals ‘click,’ they reply to each other more quickly

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The science of connection is revealed in a new study.

When two persons in a discussion are on the same page, their brains might “click.” According to a Dartmouth research, clicking isn’t simply a figure of speech; it’s also predicted by “reaction timings” in a discussion, or the time between one person’s stop and the other’s start. The results have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve all had the experience of like certain individuals and not liking others. We were curious to see whether there was anything in people’s interactions that revealed when they clicked “Emma Templeton, Guarini ’23, a PhD student in psychology and brain sciences at Dartmouth, is the first author. “The quicker individuals reply to one other, the more connected they feel,” says the study.

Three studies were conducted as part of the investigation. The first research looked at strangers’ reaction times and social connections. Sixty-six people took part in ten talks, each with a different male or female conversation partner. They were free to talk about anything they wanted, and their chat was recorded. Participants saw the video replay after the chat ended and judged how engaged they felt moment by moment during the talk. Conversations with quicker reaction times were associated with a stronger sense of social connectedness.

Members of the first research and their close friends were asked to participate in a second study to see whether the results apply to them as well. Although close friends evaluated their discussions more positively than strangers on the whole, the reaction time statistics were similar: quicker response times in friend interactions indicated instances of better social connection.

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Is it possible for outside observers to discern when two individuals “click?” Respondents from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk were asked to listen to audio snippets of discussions in which the answer timings were changed to be quicker, slower, or the same as before (control condition). Outside observers believed two speakers were more linked when their interactions comprised quicker rather than slower reaction times, which was consistent with the findings of the previous two research. This research shows that answer times alone are a potent marker of social connection since these conversation snippets were identical but for response times.

“It’s commonly known that throughout a discussion, there’s around a quarter-second delay between turns on average. Our research is the first to examine the significance of the gap in terms of connection “Thalia Wheatley, the Lincoln Filene Professor in Human Relations at Dartmouth and the main investigator of the Dartmouth Social Systems Laboratory, is a senior author on the paper. “Individuals narrow that 250-millisecond gap when they feel like they can nearly complete each other’s sentences, and that’s when two people are connecting.”

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