Research on Boosting Happiness: Cell Phones vs. Interaction

McLaughlin, Tamara Aug  30, 2019
Posted in group: Wellbeing Collaborative

Hi Everyone,

I’m guilty of frequently checking email and texts on my way from one meeting to the next, so this article hit home and has renewed my resolve to greet people as I make my way around campus this fall. This NPR story focuses on several research studies which examine the impact of passing social interactions on personal levels of happiness and components of wellbeing.

The article cites two studies that found positive impact on mood based on passing conversations with strangers, as well as research documenting the impact of non-verbal communications like smiling and eye contact. The article also cites research that identifies cell phones as a deterrent to these types of social interactions that was conducted with students at the University of British Columbia.

We’ve seen quite a bit of research linking the presence of strong support networks to happiness and wellbeing, but as Gillian Sandstrom’s research demonstrates there is a lot to be gained from acquaintance level connections as well, which is good news for those of us who have lots of opportunities for passing interactions with students and colleagues on campus.

Do you know of other research or programming related to this topic that’s happening on other campuses? If so, we hope you’ll share it so that we all have a larger evidence base to draw on.

Tamara McLaughlin
Wellbeing Collaborative
Wake Forest University