Many experiments have been done to see how quickly a person can respond to a stimulus. For example, how much time passes between the moment a driver sees the brake lights of the car ahead come on, and the moment he slams on the brakes? Some of the results are curious: if you are right-handed, you can respond with your right hand about 3% faster than with your left – and conversely for a left-handed person. Responding with the feet takes about 20% longer than responding with the hands.
The most important experimental result is one everyone knows: past the age of 40 reaction time increases. Notice, however, that 30-year-olds react faster than 20-year-olds. The table below compares reaction times to a stimulus that is seen (a light coming on) and one that is heard (a buzzer).
|stimulus seen||stimulus heard||stimulus seen||stimulus heard|
Copyright © 2000 Sizes, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last revised: 7 June 2004.