Determined not to make eye contact with anyone on the subway? You're not alone, but our commutes would be happier if we socialized more, according to a new study.
"Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends," University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Nicholas Epley said in a press release. "But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude."
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Over the course of nine experiments, the researchers learned that people predict that social isolation will result in a more enjoyable commute or waiting room experience. But the participants ended up reporting positive feedback both being spoken to and initiating conversation with a stranger.
The researchers also discovered that fear drives much of our solitary behavior: Participants said that even though they wanted to chat with someone, they assumed the other person wouldn't want to reciprocate.