New Study Says Chatting With Strangers on Your Commute Will Make You Happier

Candid Laugh | Sarah and Stevie sharing a laugh, lol I love this shot
Candid Laugh | Sarah and Stevie sharing a laugh, lol I love this shot
Photo: nnc07

According to research by behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder, conversing with random straphangers on your morning commute can improve your overall well-being. They took a large group of commuters and divided them into three groups — one instructed to talk with strangers, and one instructed to keep to themselves, and one instructed to ride as they normally do — then asked them all to report on how happy they were with the commute.

"What we find is that people misunderstand the consequences of connecting with a stranger compared to sitting in solitude," Epley says. "Specifically, they predict that they'll have a more pleasant experience on trains and buses if they just keep to themselves than if they engage a stranger in conversation, when in fact the exact opposite is true. Connecting with a stranger is surprisingly pleasant."

If it makes us feel better to connect with others, then why do we routinely make this mistake and ignore our fellow commuters?

"Essentially people think that others are less social than they actually are," he says. "It turns out that the person sitting next to you — even the one mindlessly thumbing their cell phone — is more interested in talking to you than you might think."

Check out the full article on BI for more info on the study.

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