It’s the admonition we all received
from the time we were children:
“Don’t talk to strangers!”
But if you’re an adult now,
perhaps it’s time to reconsider,
given the findings of a recent study
by University of Chicago Booth School
of Business Professor Nicholas Epley.
“Mistakenly Seeking Solitude”
In “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” an article
published recently in The Journal of Experimental
Psychology: General, Epley and his co-author,
Juliana Schroder, concluded that we humans
underestimate the positive power of social
That is, we think that interacting with people
we don’t know isn’t going to enrich our lives
as much as it actually does when we do it.
The Nuts and Bolts
Epley studied train commuters in the city of
Chicago, and found that those who were asked
to talk to strangers sitting next to them (as
opposed to sitting in solitude or doing whatever
they normally did on their commute) reported
“greater well-being” even though they had
predicted that talked to strangers would lead
to the exact opposite experience.
The Take Away
You might, after surveying the unique
circumstances of your environment, try
a little harder to make contact with the
people around you who are strangers
to you now.
They might, as the saying goes, just be
“friends you haven’t met yet.”
Even if they remain strangers, the
interaction may be well worth it to
your quality of life.