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**Reaction times – How fast are you?**

Go to the Human Benchmark site and test your reaction times. You have five attempts to press the mouse as soon as you see the screen turn green. You can then see how your reaction times compare with people around the world. According to the site over there have been over 15 million clicks – with a median reaction time of 251 milliseconds and a mean reaction time of 262 milliseconds.

We can see how this data looks plotted on a chart. As we can see this is quite a good approximation of a bell curve – but with a longer tail to the right (some people have much longer reaction times than we would expect from a pure normal distribution). In a true normal distribution we would have the mean and the median the same. Nevertheless this is close enough to model our data using a normal distribution.

From the data we can take the mean time as 255 milliseconds, and a standard deviation of around 35 (just by looking at the points where around 68% are within 1s.d)

So, with X ∼ N(255, 35²) we can then see how we compare with people around the world. Reaction times significantly faster than average would suggest an ability to do well in sports such as baseball or cricket where batters need to react to the ball in a fraction of a second.

I just tried this, and got an average of 272. I can work out what percentage of the population I’m faster than by doing the normal distribution calculation – which gives 31% of people slower than this. Trying it again gives an average of 261 – this time 43% of people would be slower than this.

Have a go yourselves and see how you get on!