- University of Chicago experts recruited more than 1,800 volunteers
- He engaged them in a series of talks on deep and shallow topics.
- Participants reported how strange and entertaining they expected it to be
- These predictions were later compared to how they actually received the chat.
- The team found that people underestimate interest in what they have to say
- This may explain why people avoid forming deep relationships with strangers
Whether it is during a long taxi journey or in a queue at the supermarket, there are often situations where we are forced to talk to strangers.
While you may be tempted to choose the standard topic of the season, a new study suggests that having deep, meaningful conversations may actually be less awkward.
Researchers at the University of Chicago conducted a series of experiments in which volunteers engaged in both shallow and more involved conversations.
They found that people often avoid making deep connections because they underestimate how interesting other people will find their point of view.
However, deep meaningful conversations were found to be less awkward and more enjoyable than small talk.
People actually prefer to have deep, meaningful conversations (as pictured) with strangers rather than just making small talk – which sounds more awkward – a study has found (stock image)
deep conversation starters
If you are tired of discussing the weather, you can try using the following study questions as deep conversational prompts:
- What do you feel most grateful for in your life? Tell the other participant about it.
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, your future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
- If you were going to be close friends with the other participant, please share what would be important for her to know.
- Can you describe a time when you cried in front of another person?
“Connecting with others in meaningful ways makes people happy,” said paper author and behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago.
‘People also seem reluctant to engage in deeper and more meaningful conversations. This struck us as an interesting social paradox.
‘If connecting with others in a deep and meaningful way increases well-being, why aren’t people doing it more often in daily life?’
To try to find an answer to this question, Professor Epley and his colleagues performed a series of 12 different experiments involving a total of more than 1,800 volunteers.
In each trial, participants were paired – mostly with complete strangers – and tasked with engaging in conversations about relatively shallow or deep topics.
Some conversations were stimulated, while other tests saw couples come up with their own shallow or deep topics about which to chat.
For example, for shallow, short-talk-style topics, ‘What do you think of today’s weather?’ Such questions were included. and ‘What’s the best TV show you’ve watched in the past month?’.
Meanwhile, the deeper signals were designed to extract more intimate and personal information.
Examples include ‘Can you describe a time when you cried in front of another person?’ and ‘If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, your future, or anything else, what would you want to know?’
Before the conversation, each participant offered their predictions on how awkward they thought the conversation would be, how much they would enjoy the discussion, and how connected they felt to their partner.
And after each chat, they rated how they really felt.
“Connecting with others in meaningful ways makes people happy,” said paper author and behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago. Still, he added, ‘people also seem reluctant to engage in deeper and more meaningful conversations. It struck us as an interesting social paradox.’ Pictured: Two strangers chatting (stock image)
The researchers found that conversations with strangers tended to be less awkward, more pleasant, and conducive to a greater sense of connectedness than participants expected – and deeper than shallow conversations.
In a typical experiment, for example, volunteers engaged in a deep conversation with one partner and a shallow conversation with another. Despite expected to prefer shallow chat, they reported enjoying deep chat.
In other tests, participants estimated how interested their conversational partner would be in what they had to say, compared to how interested they actually were.
The team found that participants consistently underestimated how interested other people would be in learning about their deepest feelings and thoughts—perhaps explaining why people are reluctant to initiate deep conversations in the first place.
The expectations of ‘our participants’ about deep interactions were not horribly misguided, but were reliably miscalibrated in a way that allows people to engage a little more deeply with others in their daily lives. can stop from.’ University of Chicago expert Nicholas Epley explained
Professor Epley said, “People imagined that disclosing something meaningful or important about themselves in conversation would be met with blank eyes and silence, only to find that in actual conversation it was not true.”
‘Humans are deeply social and tend to reciprocate in conversation.
‘If you share something meaningful and important, you are likely to exchange something meaningful and important in return, which can lead to a better conversation.’
In the final part of their experiments, the researchers set out to find out whether having more accurate expectations of a conversational partner would increase their interest in having deeper conversations with them.
In one test, for example, volunteers were asked to imagine…