Study Finds Small Talk Is Harmless

It’s true, according to a new study, that people who engage in substantive conversations tend to be happier that those who don’t, but the same study found that small talk doesn’t make people any less happy. A University of Arizona news release reports that researchers at the school surveyed 486 people, a group that included both introverts and extraverts, and found that quality conversations are indeed linked to greater happiness, but small talk seems to have no relationship with happiness one way or the other. What exactly is small talk? The researchers defined it as “a conversation where the two conversation partners walk away still knowing equally as much — or little — about each other and nothing else.” Substantive conversation, on the other hand, was defined as a one in which “real, meaningful information is exchanged.” That information could be about “any topic — politics, relationships, the weather — it just needs to be at a more than trivial level of depth.” Overall, the researchers found, study participants who engaged in a greater number of substantive conversations were happier, regardless of whether they had more introverted or extroverted personalities.

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