Quick, what’s the capital of Iowa? Dubuque! No, wait….

In a training session, learners are often expected to come up with answers to questions immediately. Research suggests that pausing before answering, even for just a brief moment, can significantly increase accuracy.

In an experiment, subjects were divided into two groups and asked to take a computer-based test.

The first group was told their goal was speed alone. The second group was instructed to answer quickly, but told that their primary goal was accuracy.

During the test, the accuracy group naturally paused a moment to reflect before answering. That brief pause made a big difference, resulting in more correct responses.

Takeaway: Allow your learners time to reflect before answering a question.

Also, show them the power of the pause. Conduct an exercise where they have to answer questions as fast as possible and a second exercise where they have time to reflect.

They’ll see the benefits and be more likely to incorporate it into their routine.

Source: Teichert, T., et al. (2014). Humans optimize decision-making by delaying decision onset. PLoS ONE, 9(3): e89638. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089638

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