My favourite stories are the ones where minimal connections between a tapestry of strangers (or acquaintances/weak ties) come together to tell a study. These stories seem more and more plausible in our increasingly connected world. Despite this, we now live in a culture of disconnection: People find it hard to make friends, and suffer emotionally and physically from a lack of belonging. My research addresses this apparent contradiction by focusing at the micro level, examining how seemingly insignificant social interactions and everyday behaviours can influence and improve well-being. This line of research examines the following questions:
- When and how do people benefit from feeling connected to others?
- When and how do social interactions lead to feelings of connection?
- What personal and cultural factors promote/inhibit social interactions?
- What fears do people have about talking to others?
- How do fears vary across people (e.g., due to individual differences) and across types of conversations
- How do fears affect the success of a social interaction?
- Can interventions target fears to improve the success of social interactions?
Click to access each publication and each media article. If you would like to read a paper, but can’t access it, please email me and I’d be happy to send a copy for your personal use. Click here for more resources.
Boothby, E.J., Cooney, G., Sandstrom, G.M., & Clark, M.S. (2018). The liking gap in conversations: Do people like us more than we think? Psychological Science, 29(11), 1742–1756.
- Data available publically at: https://osf.io/dw5fm/
Sandstrom, G.M., & Rawn, C.D. (2015). Embrace chattering students: They are building community and interest in your class. Teaching of Psychology, 42, 227-233.
Sandstrom, G.M., & Dunn, E.W. (2014). Social interactions and well-being: The surprising power of weak ties. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40, 910-922.
Sandstrom, G.M., & Dunn, E.W. (2014). Is efficiency overrated?: Minimal social interactions lead to belonging and positive affect. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 436-441.
- Data and materials available publically at: https://osf.io/nmxz7/.
Selected Media Coverage
- BBC News. Jun 12, 2019. “The surprising benefits of talking to strangers”
- NBC News, Better. Jun 5, 2019. “How to have better conversations with people you’ve just met, according to science“
- Wall Street Journal. May 11, 2019. “The surprising boost you get from strangers”
- Vice. May 7, 2019. “How small talk with almost-strangers profoundly affects your happiness“
- New York Times. May 6, 2019. “Why you need a network of casual, low-stakes friendships”
- Chicago Post-Tribune. Dec 6, 2018. “Despite your doubts about first impressions, strangers probably like you”
- New York Times. Sep 23, 2018. “Want to seem more likable? Try this”
- Time. Sep 17, 2018. “People like you more than you think, a new study suggests.”
- Forbes. Sept 2018, “People Like You More Than You Think, Study Finds”
- The Atlantic. Sept 2018, “How to Make Friends, According to Science”
- Washington Post. Jul 7, 2018. “How casual daily interactions protect your health”
- Quartz. Nov 21, 2017. “Nice weather, eh? The emotional benefits of small talk outweigh your fear of being awkward”
- The Today Show. Mar, 2017. “Small talk can provide a big boost in your mood”
- NBC News. Mar, 2017. “Master small talk: Why you need chit-chat in your life”
- The Atlantic. Oct, 2016. “Do people need small talk to be happy?”
- CBC Radio. Aug, 2015. “The benefits of talking to strangers”
- CBC Radio. Aug, 2015. “Study suggests idle chit chat in class could have benefits”
- CBC News. Aug, 2015.“Talking in class could have benefits, says new UBC research”
- Washington Post. Mar, 2015. “Treat your spouse like a stranger and other surprising research on how to be happy”
- Business Insider, UK. Mar, 2015. “Science says chatting with your barista will make you happier”
- Wall Street Journal. Nov, 2014. “Walk this way: Acting happy can make it so”
- The Sydney Morning Herald. August, 2014. “Why you should talk to strangers on your commute”
- Psychology Today. July, 2014. “Why Other People Are the Key to Our Happiness”
- New York Magazine. July, 2014. Why New Yorkers – and Everyone Else – Should Pursue Small Talk More
- Psychology Today. May, 2014. “Why We Need All the Acquaintances We Can Get”
- Huffpost Live. May, 2014. “Can Interacting with Strangers Make Us Happier?”
- New York Times. Apr, 2014. “Hello, Stranger”
- Harvard Business Review. Oct, 2013. “Chatting with the Cashier Will Improve Your Mood”
- Art of Manliness. May 2, 2019. “Why you should talk to strangers”
- June 11, 2019. “Small talk doesn’t need to be meaningless: The benefits of talking to strangers“
- June 11, 2019. “Nervous about talking to strangers? It’s not as hard as you think, and you’re probably already better at it than you know!“