New research shows that people’s expectations of their interactions with strangers do not match up with the outcome of those interactions: People thought such conversations would be more awkward and less rewarding than they actually were.
More than 1,800 people participated in a series of experiments that measured people’s expectations and the results of “deep” and “shallow” conversations with strangers and people they knew.
Experiments showed that participants likely underestimated their interest in strangers and how interested they thought the stranger would be. The dialogues were not as awkward as expected, and the participants felt happier than they expected. However, this did not apply to deeper conversations – it is still better to conduct them with close people.
Scientists noted that the general well-being of people largely depends on the quality of their social relations. Therefore, sometimes you should not be afraid to strike up a conversation with new people.