The Science of Silence Intentional Silence as a Moderation Technique

The Science of Silence: Intentional Silence as a Moderation Technique

The Disgust for Hush: A Universal Pattern

Silence.

Dead air.

Crickets.

Even the simple act of reading these words might cause a prickly, uneasy feeling.

The fact is, lack of back-and-forth chatter makes us uncomfortable. Research by Koudenburg, Postmes, and Gordijn has shown that, in the United States, it takes only four seconds before an extended period of silence becomes uncomfortable during conversation. Four seconds! Why the disgust for hush? Long story short, humans equate silence with rejection. We have an evolution-driven desire for conversation because it makes us feel connected and accepted. So why would we want to intentionally create periods of “awkward” silence with participants in workshops or research activities?

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