Thursday, March 25, 2010

Talk with more sense, reap benefits

A study recently published by Dr. Matthias Mhel, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, revealed that people who talk deeply and with sense are happier than those who engage mostly in small talk. 

This is a surpise because all this time we were made to believe that if we wallow in shallowness and not delve deeper and talk about serious stuff, then we will be fine.  No worries at all. 

Apparently, as the study shows, that is not the case. 

The study included 32 men and 47 women who agreed to wear an electronically activated recorder with a microphone lapel that recorded 30-second snippets of conversation every 12.5 minutes for for days.  This created what Dr. Mehl called "an acoustic diary."  I would like to call it an "acoustic Big Brother."

Resarchers analyzed the conversation snippets and categorized them as either small talk or more substantive ones.

Results showed that the happiest person had twice as many substantive conversations, and only one-third of the amount of small talk as the unhappiest person. 

Small talk made up only 10 percent of the happiest person's conversation while it made up almost three times as much of the unhappiest person's conversation.

This study is indeed interesting.  However for me, it poses a which-one comes-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg type of question.   Do people talk deep because they are already happy to start with?  Or do they talk deep in order to become happy?

This study has also has subjectivity screaming from all its seams.  I still find its results counterintuitive.  I look forward to more studies about the subject in the future. 


  1., does this mean that psychiatrists are the happiest people? ;-) ah, love it!

    hmm, i think that people who show a bit mre sincerity are more likely to have other people open up to them, which fosters a feeling of kinship, and thus goodwill. that's my take. But still, it is fun.

  2. Hello S!

    Yeah, you said it. This study is really interesting. :-)

    Dr. Mhel is planning to do further studies. :-)


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