Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Should you should talk to strangers? Doing so increases positive experience, study shows

Date:
July 17, 2014
Source:
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Summary:
An interesting social paradox plays out every morning around the world as millions of people board commuter trains and buses: Human beings are one of the most social species on the planet, yet when in close proximity with one another -- sitting inches away on a train -- we routinely ignore each other. Why can such social agents be so antisocial? Participants in recent experiments not only underestimated others’ interest in connecting, but also reported positive experiences by both being spoken to and to speaking with a stranger.

An interesting social paradox plays out every morning around the world as millions of people board commuter trains and buses: Human beings are one of the most social species on the planet, yet when in close proximity with one another -- sitting inches away on a train -- we routinely ignore each other.

Related Articles


Why can such social agents be so antisocial?

Humans don't understand the benefits of social connection, according to a new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Nicholas Epley.

In "Mistakenly Seeking Solitude," published recently in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Epley and co-author Juliana Schroder found that participants in the experiments not only underestimated others' interest in connecting, but also reported positive experiences by both being spoken to and to speaking with a stranger.

"Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends," Epley states. "But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude."

Though participants reported greater well-being when they did engage with strangers, they predicted precisely the opposite pattern of experiences, according to Epley, which demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the psychological consequences of social engagement.

"This misunderstanding is particularly unfortunate for a person's well-being given that commuting is consistently reported to be one of the least pleasant experiences in the average person's day," Epley says. "This experiment suggests that a surprising antidote for an otherwise unpleasant experience could be sitting very close by."

The researchers conducted nine experiments, in both field and laboratory settings, to examine an apparent social paradox: why people who benefit greatly from social connection nevertheless prefer isolation among strangers. Participants were commuter train and public bus riders who were asked to talk to a stranger, to sit in solitude, or to do whatever they normally would do, then fill out a survey to measure the actual consequences of distant social engagement versus isolation.

"Participants in the connection condition reported having the most positive experience out of all three of our experimental conditions. Most important, participants in the connection condition reported having a significantly more positive experience than participants in the solitude condition," according to Epley. ###


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas Epley, Juliana Schroeder. Mistakenly Seeking Solitude.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2014; DOI: 10.1037/a0037323

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Booth School of Business. "Should you should talk to strangers? Doing so increases positive experience, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717141851.htm>.
University of Chicago Booth School of Business. (2014, July 17). Should you should talk to strangers? Doing so increases positive experience, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717141851.htm
University of Chicago Booth School of Business. "Should you should talk to strangers? Doing so increases positive experience, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717141851.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins