A talking cure (literally)

A new study finds that people who have substantial conversations on a regular basis appear to be happier than those who engage in mostly small talk.

In order to conduct the study, psychologists from the University of Arizona and Washington University in St. Louis, had 79 college students carry a portable electronically activated recorder for four days. HealthDay reports that the device samples 30 seconds of sound every 12 and a half minutes, resulting in over 23,000 recordings. The study participants also took tests in order to evaluate personality and happiness level.

While analyzing the recordings, the researchers labeled each conversation as either small talk or substantial conversation. HealthDay provides these examples:

“For instance, small talk: “What do you have there? Popcorn? Yummy!” But the conversation that went like this was substantive: “She fell in love with your dad? So, did they get divorced soon after?”

According to LiveScience, participants who were found to be happiest spent 70 percent more time talking and 25 percent less time alone than those who were unhappiest. Compared to the unhappiest participants, the happiest students also had two times as many meaningful conversations and only engaged in about one third the amount of small talk.

All in all, more substantial conversations could potentially increase happiness, although this study does not prove a cause and effect relationship. The study is published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science.

In other happiness news, another new study finds that when it comes to happiness, it’s better to spend money on experiences, such as vacations, rather than material things. This study can be found here.

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