We assess race, gender, and age in a fraction of a second. We aren’t as good at guessing sexual orientation, but, to the extent we see it, we see it right away: when students are shown a photo of a man and asked if he is gay, they are about as accurate within one hundred milliseconds as they are after longer periods.16 For these reactions, we don’t need anything close to two seconds. But for other questions, two seconds isn’t nearly long enough. If we are asked to tell whether someone is friendly or dangerous, we do better with more time. To accurately assess whether someone is sociable, we need at least a minute, preferably five.17 The same is true if we are judging complex aspects of personality, such as neuroticism or open-mindedness.18 For these decisions, our impressions during the first two seconds fail us. We need more time.
Frank Partnoy – Wait: The Art and Science of Delay