Companion effect. Scientists told why you should speak first in a bus or bar
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Despite the fact that we are taught from childhood to be suspicious of strangers, researchers believe that such communication is necessary for people.
From childhood, parents teach their children to avoid strangers – not to talk to them and certainly to keep their distance. Scientists, of course, do not encourage strangers to communicate with children, but they warn that such attitudes are reflected in our later life, and avoiding strangers at an older age, we miss out on a lot, writes the BBC.
In a new study, scientists have concluded that even a fleeting conversation with strangers in a cafe or bus can make us not only wiser, but also happier. So, according to a political scientist from McGill University in Canada, Dietlind Stolle, the attitude that literally everything in the world that children are unfamiliar with dangerously subsequently deprives entire generations of the ability to trust other people. And this is a problem, because trust is one of the key factors in the functioning of many societies.
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According to Stolle, due to the installations received in childhood, we can miss out on many social and economic opportunities later in life, simply out of fear of strangers.
Back in 2013, psychologists Gillian Sandstrom from the University of Sussex in the UK and Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia conducted an experiment in which three dozen adults took part. They were all asked to smile and talk to a barista while shopping for coffee in the morning.
The results of the experiment showed that people who spoke to a stranger had a stronger sense of belonging and also experienced an uplift in mood. Then the authors came to the conclusion that if you need to improve your well-being and mood, just talk to a barista.
Later, behavioral scientists at the University of Chicago, Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder, conducted their own experiment in which they asked subjects to talk to strangers in public transport, taxis, or waiting rooms. In the course of the study, it became clear that people, as a rule, found it difficult to decide to speak first for a number of reasons, for example: condemnation, awkwardness, violation of social norms and boundaries of another person.
However, those who nevertheless decided talking to strangers found that the conversation lasted even longer than they expected, and the interlocutors, as a rule, were pleasant and curious. Epley and Schroeder conducted similar experiments on the London Underground and a number of public places around the world – the results remained the same: socializing with strangers makes us happier.
According to Harvard University professor and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Daniel Allen, talking to strangers not only makes us happier, it also makes us wiser. According to her, by refusing to communicate with strangers, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to learn more about the complexity of the human species, as well as the diversity of human experience.