Talking to Strangers is Good for You: Study Reveals

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By Indrani Bhattacharyya | July 24, 2014 3:14 PM EST

“Never talk to a stranger”; didn’t your mom or granny tell you so? Sure they did.

But probably we have come a long way since they warned you.

According to a new study, talking to strangers increases one’s well being to a great extent.

Reuters
Boris Johnson is willingly photographed on the tube … 'You do not, legally, have to get permission from those you photograph in the street, on the train or sitting on a bus.'

This work appeared in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business.

“This misunderstanding is particularly unfortunate for a person’s wellbeing given that commuting is consistently reported to be one of the least pleasant experiences in the average person’s day.“This experiment suggests that a surprising antidote for an otherwise unpleasant experience could be sitting very close by,” says Nicholas Epley, a professor at the university.

In this work, there were nine parts involving over 100 Chicago commuters interacting with strangers while others prefer to sit in solitude or did whatever they wanted to do. They were travelling by train, bus or cab.

Participants confirmed that initially that they doubted that talking to a stranger would create a negative impact; some also felt it would potentially be a hit to their productivity.

But the study found in reality, talking to a stranger ended up being a warm positive experience which did not have any impact on productivity.

“Either people do not get as much done on the train sitting alone as they expect to, or forming a new connection comes to be defined as a reasonably productive use of time after having done it,” the researchers noted.

The team thinks that most people usually think that the person sitting just opposite has no interest in connecting, so often hesitate to start a conversation.

If being social contributes so much to your well being, let solitude take a back seat for a while and enjoy creating new bonds with new people.

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(Photo: Reuters / Dylan Martinez)
Boris Johnson is willingly photographed on the tube … 'You do not, legally, have to get permission from those you photograph in the street, on the train or sitting on a bus.'
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