Entries in social interaction (5)


Let Me Get a Turn! Don’t Do all the Talking in a Conversation (But Don’t Just Sit There Quietly Either)

Getting to know one another is fundamental to starting any close relationship. Thinking back to the first dates many of us have had, we probably started with very important questions such as “Why did you join Tinder? or “Why exactly did I swipe right?” As we delved deeper into the conversation, we may have discussed sequentially deeper topics such as whether we would like to be famous, what a “perfect day” may be, or even sharing embarrassing moments (my answers to this final question are probably responsible for a myriad of failed first dates). These questions (and more) came from an actual study which explored the generation of interpersonal closeness in the laboratory.1 Although conversations come in many forms, they are generally characterized by some form of reciprocity. In other words, we typically take turns asking and answering questions with another person during interactions. But we may also find ourselves interacting with someone who is more of a “chatty Kathy” who does all of the talking, or someone who just sits in silence listening to you. Would such one-way interactions end in a disaster, or does engaging in any form of self-disclosure, whether it is just listening or talking, still hold the power to lead to interaction number two? That is the question that my colleague Dr. Sue Sprecher and I set to answer in a recent study.2 

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Want to Increase Your Happiness? Science says…

On Friday I went to a great talk by Dr. Matthew Killingsworth wherein he gave us some data-based pro tips on how to increase happiness. The secret? Interacting frequently and deeply with other people.

As part of his research project, Dr. Killingsworth developed a smartphone app called Track Your Happiness. At random moments during the day, the app will prompt a few simple questions about your activities (e.g., “How are you feeling?”; “What are you doing?”; “Who are you with?” etc.). Then the app gives you feedback on the factors that promote your personal happiness, and your responses to the questions go into a large, anonymous dataset that Dr. Killingsworth and his colleagues use to advance knowledge vis-à-vis the science of happiness.

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Women are More Socially Anxious than Men – But Only Just

Many social situations can provoke anxiety. Be it a networking event for work or having unannounced guests, these kind of interactions can cause even the most outgoing among us to feel unsettled. But do these feelings differ between the sexes?

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Oxytocin: The Hormone that Binds

image source: dioceseofjoliet.orgIn a recent study, oxytocin levels in single individuals and romantic couples were measured, and the couples were videotaped while interacting with each other. Individuals in romantic relationships were found to have higher levels of oxytocin than the romantically-unattached. Further, couples with the highest oxytocin levels were more likely to experience positive emotions when interacting with their partners. This research provides additional evidence of the critical role of oxytocin in promoting bonding between individuals.

Schneiderman, I., Zagoory-Sharon, O., Leckman, J. F., & Feldman, R. (in press) Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment: Relations to couples’ interactive reciprocity. Psychoneuroendocrinology. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.12.021


I Learned It By Watching You

Have you ever felt like others’ negative moods are contagious? If you feel a connection to them, you may be right. Participants who were led to feel a connection to a confederate based on shared interests (e.g., favorite movies, music, travel destinations) felt more stress when the confederate exhibited greater stress and anxiety while preparing for a speech. Similarly, participants experienced increased heart rate and blood pressure when watching the confederate engage in strenuous exercise. 

Cwir, D., Carr, P. B., Walton, G. M., & Spencer, S. J. (2011). Your heart makes my heart move: Cues of social connectedness cause shared emotions and physiological states among strangers. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(3), 661-664.