PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We are living in a digital world and for many of us, we spend more time with our heads down looking at our phones than noticing the people around us. Science says it’s time to look up and talk to that stranger next to you because it might make you happier.
Eyewitness News took that idea to the streets.
Walking up to a stranger with the intention of talking to them is something CBS3’s Alexandria Hoff is used to but it’s not always easy. Actually most of the time, it’s completely awkward.
What’s not awkward is running into a crew like this.
“I’m about it, I love it,” one man said of talking to strangers.
And that is a beautiful thing, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia. Study subjects who shared brief interactions with strangers were left happier than those who did not.
“My mom will do that. She will talk to anybody and I just stand there uncomfortably,” one woman said.
Most often, people do just that while staring down at their phone. But according to researchers, even just a few words exchanged with a barista or waiter can elevate one’s mood.
“I guess it depends what you talk about so that’s situational,” one man said.
“If they had a dog at the park then I would definitely talk to them. That’s worth the awkwardness,” one woman said.
The series of studies found that even eye contact with a stranger has benefits.
“Unless they look weird — some people have that look where you want to just get up and walk away,” a man said.
Of course, intuition over who you are interacting with is important.
“I think it’s different as a female though, because it depends on how they approach you,” one woman said.
Researchers add gaining happiness from random interactions is as simple as a “hello” or “good morning.”
According to the research, the happiness doesn’t have to be short-lived just as long as those brief positive interactions are consistent.