Silence becomes awkward after approximately four seconds, research shows. People who view a video clip in which a four-second silence has been inserted into a conversation report higher instances of low self-esteem and anxiety than those who view a video clip without the breaks in conversation. Researchers believe that people might associate feelings of awkwardness with silence because not receiving a response signals rejection by their peer group. In prehistoric times, social rejection might have meant death, because people needed to be in a group to survive, so it is thought that humans have an inherent desire to be accepted.
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