Aug. 17, 2011 at 8:44 AM ET
Mouth-breathers, eye contact avoiders and that girl who always stands way too close to whoever she's talking to: Come sit by me. A recent study suggests that the exact attributes that make the most awkward folks in your life so very, very awkward are the same traits that may enable them to save your life someday, reports MyHealthNewsDaily.
Anti-social people -- those who are especially insecure or anxious, or those who tend to avoid relationships -- were faster at detecting and responding to a potentially dangerous situation, according to the research, which was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
In the new study, participants filled out a survey designed to assess their attachment style. Then they were invited, in teams of three, to play an Internet-based game, and were left to wait in a room for the game to start.
When the experimenter left the room, the "computer" in the room began to emit smoke. The computer was actually a disguised smoke machine, and the researchers observed the team's response.
Teams with higher levels of avoidance responded faster — roughly 1 1/2 seconds faster for each point higher they scored on avoidance on their initial survey.
As social psychologist Tsachi Ein Dor explained to the health news site, "Anxiety, which is unpleasant to those who feel it and to other people in their surroundings, could be highly beneficial, as it enables early detection of threats." Likewise, avoidance "is also highly beneficial, because it enables rapid response to threat," says Ein Dor, who was one of the study researchers.
Socially-awkward types, we want to hear from you: Do you find you're especially quick to react in a crisis? And friends of the socially-awkward: Have you ever seen this in action? Leave a comment telling us about it.
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