The rapid-fire back and forth of a witty repartee is an exhilarating thing. When the conversation is ping-ponging between you and someone else—be it on a date, or in a business meeting, or at happy hour—chances are you’ll find yourself drawn to that person. And it’s the speed that’s the key, according to a new study in Psychological Science.
“Mental speed allows people to judge situational demands rapidly, consider a wide repertoire of responses within a socially appropriate response window, mask inappropriate initial reactions by rapidly presenting a non-dominant response, and make time-sensitive humorous associations,” write the study authors, who hail from the University of Queensland and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
The researchers recruited groups of friends from a college campus and had them rate one another on charisma and social skills. Individuals also took an intelligence assessment and a ton of personality tests. To assess mental speed, each person answered “30 common-knowledge questions” like “name a precious gem” as fast as they could (Diamond! Nailed it), and took two other tests—one in which they identified a dot’s position on a computer screen, and one in which they classified pairs of patterns as the same or different.