What is better at promoting happiness: deep conversations or small talk?

Looks like deep conversations might help:

Together, the present findings demonstrate that the happy life is social rather than solitary, and conversationally deep rather than superficial. What makes these findings especially compelling is the lack of method overlap between the wellbeing measures (self- and informant reports) and the interaction measures (direct observation). Also, the replication of findings across measures of well-being and across weekday and weekend behavior is encouraging.

Naturally, our correlational findings are causally ambiguous. On the one hand, well-being may be causally antecedent to having substantive interactions; happy people may be “social attractors” who facilitate deep social encounters (Lucas & Dyrenforth, 2006). On the other hand, deep conversations may actually make people happier. Just as self-disclosure can instill a sense of intimacy in a relationship, deep conversations may instill a sense of meaning in the interaction partners. 

Therefore, our results raise the interesting possibility that happiness can be increased by facilitating substantive conversations (Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2006). Future research should examine this possibility experimentally.

Remarking on Socrates’ dictum that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” Dennett (1984) wrote, “The overly examined life is nothing to write home about either” (p. 87).Although we hesitate to enter such delicate philosophical disputes, our findings suggest that people find their lives more worth living when examined―at least when examined together.

Source: “Eavesdropping on Happiness, Well-Being Is Related to Having Less Small Talk and More Substantive Conversations” from Psychological Science


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