Speak Up! Mistaken Beliefs About How Much to Talk in Conversations

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2023 Oct;49(10):1454-1465. doi: 10.1177/01461672221104927. Epub 2022 Jul 11.


We hypothesized that people would exhibit a reticence bias, the incorrect belief that they will be more likable if they speak less than half the time in a conversation with a stranger, as well as halo ignorance, the belief that their speaking time should depend on their goal (e.g., to be liked vs. to be found interesting), when in fact, perceivers form global impressions of each other. In Studies 1 and 2, participants forecasted they should speak less than half the time when trying to be liked, but significantly more when trying to be interesting. In Study 3, we tested the accuracy of these forecasts by randomly assigning participants to speak for 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, or 70% of the time in a dyadic conversation. Contrary to people's forecasts, they were more likable the more they spoke, and their partners formed global rather than differentiated impressions.

Keywords: affective forecasting; conversation; interpersonal perception; meta-perception; social perception.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Motivation