People enjoy thorough conversations with strangers but tend to stick to small talk because they underestimate how interested strangers are in their feelings, new research indicates.
esearchers say humans assistance from thorough and meaningful talks that help to forge connections with one another.
But individuals tend to stick to less meaningful topics with people they do not know, because they underestimate how much others are interested in their lives.
According to a new study, people wrongly believe deeper conversations with strangers will be more awkward and less enjoyable than they truly are.
Study co-author, Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said: “Connecting with others in meaningful ways tends to make people happier, and in addition people also seem reluctant to include in deeper and more meaningful conversation.
“This hit us as an interesting social paradox: if connecting with others in thorough and meaningful ways increases well-being, then why aren’t people doing it more often in daily life?”
In a bid to answer this question researchers designed a series of 12 experiments with more than 1,800 participants.
Pairs of people, mainly strangers, were asked to discuss either comparatively thorough or shallow topics.
Shallow questions included small-talk topics like “what is the best TV show you’ve seen in the last month?”
While thorough questions resulted in more personal and intimate information, such as, “can you describe a time you cried in front of another person?”.
In other experiments, people generated their own thorough and shallow conversation topics.
The study found that overall both thorough and shallow conversations felt less awkward and participants felt greater feelings of connections and enjoyment than expected.
Researchers found the effect tended to be stronger for thorough conversations.
The deeper conversations were also more enjoyable.
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