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Description: Imagine that you are having a bad day, though I hope you are not. Imagine that demands are rising, things are not going in your desired directions and your stress and anxiety levels are climbing up towards the roof. What would be one thing you could do that could lead to you feeling significantly better at the end of the day? Perhaps some deep breathing would help or maybe a walk or a bit of some other exercise. What about calling a friend, not for answers (like Who Wants to be a Millionaire?), but just to catch up, joke around, or talk a bit about life? Do you think that might help? Now think a bit about how you might test this question in a research study. How many people would you need to include? What would you have them do? How would you measure their levels of stress, anxiety or well-being? What sort of time frame would you want the study to run along? Once you have your research thoughts in order have a read through the article linked below and see what some researchers decided to do in order to address these questions.

Source: Just one quality conversation with a friend boosts daily well-being, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: February 2, 2023

Image by Richard Duijnstee from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, there are two levels of things you can take away from this study. The first is a summary of the main findings of the study, that having just one conversation of one type with one friend leads to being in a better place psychologically at the end of the day and that this works for everyone and not just for those who regularly practice friend contacts. The second level concerns questions regarding the design of the study or HOW they gathered the data that they spoke to in their general finding’s summary.  The researchers say that the design of the study allowed them to gain insight into several things but they do not tell you what those design features were and how they worked. This means that g=your understanding of the study and its findings are limited and if you were another researcher, a peer reviewing the study for possible publication in a journal, you would want to know more. Now, the linked article is only a summary (taken from a press release put out by the university that the researchers work at) and that ‘more’ is available in in the article itself. However, it is important to note how your understanding of the research summarized in the article and the level of confidence you can put in what the research results involve and suggest are (or should be) quite limited when based on only the summary provided in the linked article. Sometimes you have to go to the research article itself to get a more solid and complete understanding of the research, its results and the discussion of them offered by the researchers.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did the research summarized in the linked article suggest about the role of talking with a friend in managing daily well-being?
  2. What do you need to find out more about if you want to properly understand the summary statements made by the researchers?
  3. Given that the article makes suggestions about ways in which we might improve our daily levels of well-being what are some of the things that should be included in such summary articles to make the life suggestions more usable and more effective?

References (Read Further):

Hall, J. A., Holmstrom, A. J., Pennington, N., Perrault, E. K., & Totzkay, D. (2023). Quality Conversation Can Increase Daily Well-Being. Communication Research, 00936502221139363. Abstract

Bernstein, M. J., Zawadzki, M. J., Juth, V., Benfield, J. A., & Smyth, J. M. (2018). Social interactions in daily life: Within-person associations between momentary social experiences and psychological and physical health indicators. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(3), 372-394. Link

Brannan, D., Biswas-Diener, R., Mohr, C. D., Mortazavi, S., & Stein, N. (2013). Friends and family: A cross-cultural investigation of social support and subjective well-being among college students. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(1), 65-75. Link

Diener, E., Heintzelman, S. J., Kushlev, K., Tay, L., Wirtz, D., Lutes, L. D., & Oishi, S. (2017). Findings all psychologists should know from the new science on subjective well-being. Canadian Psychology/psychologie canadienne, 58(2), 87. Link

Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2015). A new look at social support: A theoretical perspective on thriving through relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19(2), 113-147. Link

Hesse, C., Floyd, K., Rains, S. A., Mikkelson, A. C., Pauley, P. M., Woo, N. T., … & Duncan, K. L. (2021). Affectionate communication and health: A meta-analysis. Communication Monographs, 88(2), 194-218. Link