Sandstrom, G. M., & Dunn, E. W. (2014). Social interactions and well-being: the surprising power of weak ties. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(7), 910 – 922.
This particular study was conducted to find out just how powerful social interactions as small as talking to acquaintances or strangers can be. The findings suggest that even the smallest interactions, like talking to someone in line at Starbucks can actually have a huge positive impact on a person’s overall well-being! In the studies conducted, they found that students who simply had more interactions with fellow classmates actually reported a greater sense of self-purpose, belonging, and happiness. The results were the same for the participants in a different study who simply had more daily weak tie interactions.
Sandstrom and Dunn did not limit their findings to just students however, they also did a study with participants that were all kinds of members of the community and they too, proved that more weak tie interactions positively increases emotional and social well-being. These results make sense if you really think about it because I believe most of us know that isolation is not in human nature. The average person becomes depressed and even delusional if left in isolation with no social interaction for extreme periods of time. This is something we know happens to prisoners who have long sentences in isolation. Something as little as the seeing the guard when they bring food can be of true value. Humans are literally built to be social creatures so it makes sense that our brain and body are rewarded by social interaction, regardless of its magnitude.
This is definitely proven in my daily life too, because when I am walking to and from class if I stop to compliment someone’s outfit, or just smile and say hello, those little interactions leave me bubbly and skipping on my way. It’s incredible to think that such little social interactions can have such a huge, long-lasting effect on your mindset and overall happiness! It is nice to feel recognized and worthy of discussion, especially when the person you are engaging with has no external reason for engaging in conversation with you. Weak tie social interactions are entirely voluntary and without motive so it is really rewarding to know someone is taking the time to acknowledge your presence and spread kindness!
Interestingly, most of my happiest moments involve conversations with strangers. I wonder if this is the case for most people?