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The Surprising Benefits of Talking to Strangers

Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder: Simply reaching out to a fellow human being to say hello may be better received than people realize. Few start a conversation with a stranger, but most seem happy to talk if you reach out with good intentions. One reason may be that the experience of talking with others and hearing a stranger’s voice makes us realize they have a rich inner life of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences, just like us. These brief connections with strangers are not likely to turn a life of misery into one of bliss. However, they can change unpleasant moments — like the grind of a daily commute — into something more pleasant. Humans are inherently social animals, who are made happier and healthier when connected to others.

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