Even a short conversation or simple greeting with strangers can be important for your health. Scientists from Great Britain and Turkey looked at such relationships.
A team of psychologists from Sabanci University in Turkey, working with the University of Sussex in the UK, found that simply saying hello to strangers we meet can increase life satisfaction. They published the results of their study in the journal “Social Psychological and Personality Science”.
Talking to strangers and feeling happy
Scientists asked over 60,000 questions. people questions about their encounters with strangers and how they rate their level of life satisfaction. The research team found a clear trend – people who reported briefly interacting with or talking to strangers were more likely to report higher levels of life satisfaction or happiness compared to people who stayed away and avoided talking to strangers.
Researchers suggest that regular interactions with strangers can lead to a sense of belonging to a community, which can make people feel more accepted and satisfied with their lives.
Loneliness is a global health problem
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared loneliness a global public health problem – as serious as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. WHO even established a special commission on this matter. Psychologists say that loneliness is associated with a high degree of isolation in most modern societies – people tend to stay away from others (which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic) and talk only to those they know.
The study authors emphasized that isolation makes people less happy than in the past, when strangers were more likely to talk freely to each other. In turn, establishing even small interactions can contribute to reducing the feeling of loneliness, which is a real threat to health.