Alex Fox in Smithsonian:
A new study asks the question: Do conversations end when people want them to? The short answer, it turns out, is no. The study, published this week in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, took a two-pronged approach. The first piece was an online survey completed by 806 people that asked a series of questions about a conversation they recently had with an intimate friend or family member. The questions queried the participant whether there was a moment they had wanted the conversation to end and to estimate when that moment was in relation to when the talk reached its conclusion. The second part of the study involved 252 people being paired up with strangers in the lab to chat about whatever they felt like for anywhere between one and 45 minutes.
In the online survey debriefing a recent intimate conversation, 67 percent of the respondents said they wanted the conversation to end before it actually did, and most had secretly wished the chat had been either 50 percent longer or 50 percent shorter than it was, reports Cathleen O’Grady for Science. “Whatever you think the other person wants, you may well be wrong,” says Adam Mastroianni, a psychology researcher at Harvard University and the study’s lead author, tells Rachel Nuwer of Scientific American. “So you might as well leave at the first time it seems appropriate, because it’s better to be left wanting more than less.”