Friday, August 5, 2022

Call, phone or text a friend – they appreciate it more than you think

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A new study suggests that connecting with a friend via a note, phone call or text message is valued more than you might think.

Researchers have found that people consistently underestimate how much others in their social environment might value unexpected contacts.

Research from the University of Pittsburgh also found that people were even more grateful for the contact when it came as a surprise.

The lead researcher behind the paper urged people to connect with friends and loved ones – particularly those with whom they have lost touch during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, involved a series of experiments involving more than 5,900 participants to assess whether people had an accurate understanding of how much others are worth reaching for.

In one assessment, half of the participants were asked to recall the last time they emailed, texted or phoned someone in their social circle “just because” or “just to catch up” after they had been away for a long time had not interacted with them.

Other participants were asked to recall a similar situation when someone contacted them.

They then rated their appreciation for the contact.

Those who reached out were significantly less likely to rate the appreciation of the contact compared to those who were contacted.

Researchers found similar results when people reached out to someone in their social circle who they hadn’t spoken to in a while.

They also found that appreciation was even higher when the contact was surprising.

Lead author Peggy Liu of the University of Pittsburgh said: “Humans are inherently social creatures and enjoy connecting with others.

“There is a lot of research showing that maintaining social connections is good for our mental and physical health. But despite the importance and enjoyment of social connections, our research suggests that people grossly underestimate how much others appreciate being reached.”

She added, “We also found that people underestimated the esteem of others more when the communication was more surprising than part of a regular communication pattern or when the social bonds between the two participants were weak.”

On the impact of the pandemic, the researchers said socializing after a long period of separation can be daunting, but their findings suggest these concerns may be unnecessary.

“For a variety of reasons, I sometimes pause before reaching out to people in my pre-pandemic social circle,” said Dr. liu

“When that happens, I think about this research and remind myself that other people might also want to contact me and be hesitant for the same reasons.

“I then tell myself that I would appreciate it very much if they would reach out to me and that there is no reason to think that they would not appreciate it if I would reach out to them as well.”

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