Enough with the weather, already

As an extrovert, I generally enjoy meeting new people, but I’m not a big fan of small talk.  Give me somebody where I can quickly get into an in-depth discussion of politics, books, or ACC basketball (most definitely not small talk), and I’m happy.   Apparently some psychology professors have been researching the nature of small talk vs. more meaningful conversation. The result: the latter actually leads to more happiness.  Via Miller-McCune:

Research repeatedly finds a correlation between happiness andmore gregarious individuals, but it hadn’t determined what element of sociability — bubbling over with shallow, inconsequential conversation or exchanging content of personal significance — leads to contentment.

New research suggests that less small talk and more substantive conversation causes increased happiness. (Middle school girls around the globe, take note.) [Love that snark in the middle of a serious article].  What is just as important as pure, outright outgoingness is the nature and content of social interactions, whether trivial or substantive…

More importantly, the happiest participants had about one-third as much small talk and twice as many genuine conversations.

You do have to wonder about the methodology, though:

Looking at 300 30-second samples for each participant, the researchers first noted whether the person was alone or talking and then categorized each recording according to levels of small talk versus substantive conversation, with conversations of substance being defined as involved conversations consisting of meaningful or personally profound material.

“Meaningful or personally profound.”  How in the world is a 3rd person supposed to determine that?  If I didn’t have a huge stack of papers to grade, I’d go find the original article, but color me skeptical.  When I talk about ACC basketball, it is quite meaningful to me (if not quite personally profound) and categorically different from a discussion of the latest heat wave.  Furthermore, sometimes discussion of current events and politics are completely vapid and shallow, but other times quite profound.  Yet, I do suspect there’s really something to the basic gist of the findings.  Maybe I do need to take a look at the article.  Till then, how about this weather?

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