Study: Deep conversations linked to emotional health

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — A recent study suggests striking up meaningful conversations with strangers leads to greater happiness.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago.

“We observed that people often engage in small talk in everyday life,” Michael Kardas, a researcher on the study, said during an appearance on “Morning in America”. “Even though deeper conversations tend to be the ones that build stronger connections.”

Kardas said the study set out wanting to understand why people shy away from deeper conversations.

“What we find in a series of studies is that people avoid deeper conversations, at least partly because they expect these conversations to feel more awkward than they actually do,” Kardas said.

The research conducted offered participants suggestions of deeper conversational topics.

For example:

  • What’s something that you feel grateful for?
  • What’s one of your most meaningful memories?
  • Can you describe a time you’ve cried in front of another person.

“After people have these conversations, even with the stranger, they tend to report feeling more connected than they expected and less awkward than they had anticipated before the conversation,” Kardas said.

It is common for people to get nervous or feel guarded about striking up a conversation with strangers, but Kardas says it all starts with a “hello.”

“Once you say hello to another person, once you initiate that conversation and you see that another person is interested in talking with you, it becomes much more natural to transform a relatively shallow conversation into a deeper one,” Kardas said. “And then the deeper the conversations you have, the more you learn that these tend to be a surprisingly positive experience.”

Although the study didn’t include interactions that take place over social media, Kardas said, “These conversations are likely to be a little bit more superficial. And so going a little deeper, could build a stronger connection, perhaps even online.”

Watch the full interview in the video player above.

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