The Zoomer Report: Small Talk and Happiness

What kind of conversations do you have? Are they mostly small talk, or something a little more substantial? A new study examining how conversation connects to happiness concludes that it’s the meaningful talks that will make you happy.

Researchers at the University of Arizona, looked at the different types of conversation that happy and unhappy people participate in. They found that the happiest people engaged in only one-third as much small talk as the unhappiest participants. Happy people tended to have twice as many substantive conversations, and spent 25 per cent less time alone.

Researchers had participants wear a recording device for four days, picking up conversations that they had.It sampled 30 seconds of sound every 12.5 minutes, giving researchers a broad range of conversations to examine in terms of “small talk” vs. “deep conversation.”

The study, published in the Journal of Psychological Science, meshes well with established ideas that happiness and social life are intertwined, that maintaining friendships can help with emotional well-being. Bottom line: Don’t be too busy to have a meaningful conversation.

About The Zoomer Report

Libby ZnaimerLibby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.

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