Why Quick Thinking Works Out if You’re Neurotic

Act fast and you make more mistakes, right? Well, not if you happen to be neurotic.

According to a study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, people who scored highly on a test for neuroticism made more accurate judgements, so long as they made them quickly. Researchers had 196 teenage boys, all cricketers, answer a questionnaire (not this one, but one like it) that placed them on the neurotic scale. They then watched a number of videos taken from behind bowlers during the Twenty20 World Cup in England in 2009. Just after the bowler released the ball, each clip was frozen and then disappeared after half a second, which would be the amount of time a batter would need to make a decision. Each participant had to react by hitting one of two keys: they could go for a single, or go for a six (that is, hitting it towards the boundary, much like a baseball home run). Incidentally, four cricket coaches agreed on the best response for each clip.

When comparing the boy’s answers to the best strategy decided by the coaches, two separate results emerged. Boys who scored low on the neurotic scale did more poorly if they answered quickly, and they did better when they took their time to decide. However, the opposite was true for boys who scored high on the neurotic scale: the faster they decided, the more likely they were to be correct.

Of course, a major flaw of the study is that hitting a keyboard is different than actually swinging a bat—but still, it’s worth figuring out where you are on the neurotic scale, and then quickly reacting accordingly.

This is a test