What Factors Can Influence Reaction Time?

June 14, 2021 1 min read

Reaction time is a stimulus response time needed to perceive, process, and react to any sensory input.

There are a number offactors that affect reaction time in humans. These mainly include gender, age, physical and mental fitness, sleep deprivation, consumption of intoxicants, and the sensory regime the stimulus belongs to.

What factors impact our ability to react to a stimulus?

Let’s have a detailed look at these factors.

1. Stimulus complexity 

The complexity of the stimulus is one of the mainfactors that influence reaction time.

If a stimulus is complex, the brain has to process more information to initiate a response. The complexity depends on the number of stimuli perceived at a time and the possible number of responses for them.

2. Stimulus familiarity

Familiarity with a stimulus is another factor that influences its reaction time.

If you are already familiar with the stimulus, the brain has less new information to process and already knows what the suitable response to the situation is. 

This is part of the reason why athletes can improve their reaction time with repetitive training.

3. Physical and mental state of the subject

Another important thing that determines reaction time is the state in which the subject is. There are a number of physical and mental aspects of the body that determine reaction time.

These include: 

  • Gender.
  • Age.
  • Being left or right handed.