Skip the Small Talk: Meaningful Conversations Linked to Happier People

From Scientific American:

Skip-the-small-talk_1 Feeling down? Having a stimulating conversation might help, according to a new study published in Psychological Science. Researchers at the University of Arizona and Washington University in St. Louis used unobtrusive recording devices to track the conversations of 79 undergraduate students over the course of four days. They then counted the conversations and determined how many were superficial versus substantive, based on whether the information exchanged was banal (“What do you have there? Pop­corn?”) or meaningful (“She fell in love with your dad? So, did they get divorced soon after?”). They also assessed subjects’ overall well-being by having them fill out question­naires and by asking their friends to report on how happy and content with life they seemed.

The happiest subjects spent 70 percent more time talking than the unhappiest sub­jects, which suggests that “the mere time a person spends in the presence of others is a good predictor of the person’s level of happi­ness,” says co-author Matthias Mehl, a psy­chologist at Arizona. The happiest subjects also participated in a third as much small talk and had twice as many in-depth conversations as the most unhappy participants.

More here.