1. How long should we make eye contact so that we don't look shifty and the other person doesn't feel awkward? A) Half a second B) 1 second C) 3 seconds D) 5 seconds
C) 3 Seconds. It's the best guide. When researchers tested it, the vast majority of people from 56 nations preferred eye contact for between two and four seconds. Gender, age and even personality didn't seem to make any difference to the results. Let's note though that in some cultures, eye contact is a sensitive issue and it would be a mistake to assume that the other person is untrustworthy or not interested.
2. Is a person who is regularly contemptuous of others likely to be more confident than average or less?
Less. They tend to be more needy and fragile. And that's just the beginning. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that people who look down on others with a sneering manner tend to be more narcissistic. They are also more likely to be anxious, lonely, preoccupied with social status and perfectionists.
3. At what age should we expect children to have learned to take turns?
Five. On average. There's more to taking turns than meets the eye. It involves, not only being kind to others when they are kind, but also thinking about the long-term benefits. A recent study shows that even chimpanzees can't manage the strategic bit. Our five year-olds might struggle with table manners, but they are really clever.
4. Let's imagine you've made a really bad mistake. It's time to tell the boss. How should you do it? A) Express your shame or guilt B) Keep your emotions out of it.
B) Keep emotions out of it. We haven't field-tested this one, but a recent study in Psychological Science suggests it might be the better strategy. The study revealed that when an actor expressed little or no emotion while taking responsibility for a software disaster, people thought he was more believable and trustworthy. The words he used didn't seem to make any difference. It was his neutral demeanour. According to the researchers, displaying even genuine emotion after a failure may be interpreted as deceptive. Our suggestion: don't just state what happened and leave –go prepared to discuss what went wrong and what you would do differently.
5. Are most people more productive when they work from home? A) Yes B) No C) Maybe
C) Maybe. Okay, that's a vague answer, but it should be. Productivity depends on how well the telework is planned. The most recent report we've seen concludes that it works best in moderation. Working from home (or car, or remote office) can improve productivity and job satisfaction. It can make workers less stressed. But there are potential negatives too. There's the blurring of work and home lives and missing out on sharing knowledge and experience with others. Teleworkers tell us that, most of all, they miss regular social contact with their colleagues and feeling like one of the team.
6. A colleague across the room has just put the phone down and is expressing either intense joy or anguish. From your vantage point, how likely is it you could tell which emotion you are seeing? A) Unlikely B) Quite likely C) Don't be ridiculous
A) Unlikely. Oddly enough, the facial expressions of joy and anguish are similar. We need the context. In this case we don't know what the phone call was about and let's assume we can't hear any sobs of anguish or gasps of triumph. Maybe hold back before going over to join the celebration until you can be sure that you are not misreading what you are seeing.
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