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Description: I suspect you recall being told as a child not to talk to strangers. Good advice. But what about today, as an adult? When you find yourself in a situation (perhaps waiting in a line or for an event to start) where you are talking with a stranger what sorts of things do you talk about? Would you speak with them about anything “deep” (something that maters to you)? If you did how do you think it would go? Maybe also think a bit about the possible “whys” behind your thoughts on or answers to these questions. Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article linked below that talks about a large social psychological investigation of these questions. The results may surprise you.

Source: New psychology research finds deep conversations with strangers tend to go better than people expect, Eric W. Dolan, Psypost.

Date: December 10, 2021

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, were you surprised to read that deep conversations with strangers tend to go better than we expect? As the researchers suggest we ARE social beings and so perhaps it should be a surprise we can be social with people we do not know. As well, it may help the conversation that the strangers we speak with do not know us as a friend or family member might. This may not be due to our being able to lie with a stranger but rather to our ability to more readily taken at face value by a stranger and thus we may get more out of the interaction. We should be cautious in approaching or opening up to strangers, but it may be that we do not need to avoid doing so entirely, at least as adults.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you approach conversations with strangers?
  2. Were your expectations regarding stranger chats supported or shifted by the research discussed in the article?
  3. Why might deep conversations with strangers work better than we expect?

References (Read Further):

Kardas, M., Kumar, A., & Epley, N. (2021). Overly shallow?: Miscalibrated expectations create a barrier to deeper conversation. Journal of personality and social psychology. Link

Peter, J., Valkenburg, P. M., & Schouten, A. P. (2006). Characteristics and motives of adolescents talking with strangers on the Internet. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(5), 526-530. Link

Sandstrom, G. M., & Boothby, E. J. (2021). Why do people avoid talking to strangers? A mini meta-analysis of predicted fears and actual experiences talking to a stranger. Self and Identity, 20(1), 47-71. Link

Schlinger, H. D. (2014). Publishing outside the box: unforeseen dividends of talking to strangers. The Behavior Analyst, 37(2), 77-81. Link

Sandstrom, G., Boothby, E., & Cooney, G. (2021). Talking to strangers-A week-long intervention reduces psychological barriers to social connection. Link