Talking to strangers: a week-long intervention reduces psychological barriers to social connection

Sandstrom, Gillian M, Boothby, Erica J and Cooney, Gus (2022) Talking to strangers: a week-long intervention reduces psychological barriers to social connection. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 102. pp. 1-12. ISSN 0022-1031

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Although people derive substantial benefit from social connection, they often refrain from talking to strangers because they have pessimistic expectations about how such conversations will go (e.g., they believe they will be rejected or not know what to say). Previous research has attempted but failed to get people to realize that their concerns about talking to strangers are overblown. To reduce people’s fears, we developed an intervention in which participants played a week-long scavenger hunt game that involved repeatedly finding, approaching, and talking to strangers. Compared to controls, this minimal, easily replicable treatment made people less pessimistic about the possibility of rejection and more optimistic about their conversational ability—and these benefits persisted for at least a week after the study ended. Daily reports revealed that people’s expectations grew more positive and accurate by the day, emphasizing the importance of repeated experience in improving people’s attitudes toward talking with strangers.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: social interaction, conversation, intervention, social connection
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2022 11:38
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 11:15

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