Scientists may have just have figured out how charisma -- that indefinable quality of people who can captivate a room -- works.
Charisma may rely on quick thinking, according to new research. In other words, people who can respond speedily to general knowledge questions or tasks tend to be seen as more charismatic by their friends.
"We had expected mental speed to predict charisma, as speed seemed like a critical underlying component to people’s capacity to be interesting -- and even a little unpredictable -- in social interaction," Dr. Bill von Hippel, the lead researcher and a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the Huffington Post in an email. "But we were surprised to find that speed was more important than IQ in predicting charisma."
The researchers recruited groups of friends, which included 417 people total, to take rapid-answer tests intended to measure their mental speed. Then, each person reported how charismatic their other friends in the group were and each took an IQ test.
After comparing the IQs, mental speeds, and charisma ratings, the researchers found that mental speed could accurately predict charisma, whereas IQ could not. The researchers concluded that mental speed may allow an individual to mask inappropriate reactions and to be humorous on the spot, allowing for the person to be seen as charismatic.
"Social intelligence is more than just knowing the right thing to say," Hippel said. "It’s also the capacity to say it in a timely fashion."
The research was published in the journal Psychological Science on Nov. 30.
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