Answer Quickly: Do You Give the Real Answer?

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Have you done any quick quizzes? You just need to answer some questions quickly and without thinking, then the quizzer will tell you the results, like if you are a good person or bad person.



Quick quizzes are known to make you give the most genuine answers, but the latest findings published in Psychological Science suggest that when asked to answer questions quickly and impulsively, people tend to respond with a socially desirable answer rather than an honest one.


How the study went


The researchers first devised a test of 10 simple yes-or-no questions, such as "I sometimes feel resentful when I don't get my way," and "No matter who I'm talking to, I'm always a good listener." The participants were asked to answer in fewer than 11 seconds, or alternatively, more than 11 seconds.



The researchers found that people who answered quickly were more likely to give socially desirable answers, while people who answered slowly and people who were not given any time constraints were less likely to do so.


Then, the participates took a social-judgment task designed to assess if the participants thought people were more a mix of good qualities or bad qualities in order to see if they tend to give socially acceptable responses under time pressure because they think they are good people.



It turned out that people who thought they are virtuous gave highly socially desirable answers in general, but especially so when they were given ample time to deliberate. In contrast, people who didn’t think they are virtuous adjusted their responses by responding in a more socially desirable way when given short time.


In other words, quick quizzes don’t contribute to real answers. “Under time pressure, people may default to their desire to appear virtuous, even if it means misrepresenting themselves,” concluded John Protzko, co-leader of the study.



Next time, do not blindly believe the results of quick quizzes. The interpretation of a lot of research findings that use the 'answer quickly' technique may also need to be revisited.


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