Washington- Do phone calls from long lost friends really excite you? you are not alone. A new study finds that people often underestimate how much they appreciate their old friends to suddenly receive a call from them.
Researchers found that participants who called, texted, or emailed someone in their social circle only to say hi consistently underestimated their friends for listening to them. Meanwhile, the friend who received the message gave a much higher value to the sudden social interaction.
“People are essentially social beings and enjoy connecting with others,” explains lead author Peggy Liu, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, in a media statement. “There is a lot of research showing that maintaining social connections is good for our mental and physical health. However, despite the importance and enjoyment of social connection, our research indicates that people significantly underestimate how much others value connection with them.”
Friends love when you call “just because”
The study included several experiments involving more than 5,900 people, looking at factors that play a role in how much someone feels valued when others contact them.
In one experiment, study authors asked half of the participants to remember the last time they called someone in their social circle “just because” or “just to catch up” after not talking to them for a really long time. The rest of the group took the opposite approach, remembering when a long-lost friend reached out to them.
The two groups then had to rate on a seven-point scale (1 means ‘not at all’ and 7 means ‘extently’) how much the person receiving this communication appreciates or feels grateful, grateful or happy about a message. For the people making the call, this meant guessing how much their friends would enjoy hearing from them. For the people receiving the call, they simply had to rate how much they appreciated hearing from a long-term friend.
The results show that people who reached significantly underestimated their friends when comparing the two groups.
People enjoy surprises
In a separate experiment, participants sent a short note or a small gift to someone they hadn’t seen in a while. Just as in the previous experiment, the group had to rate on a seven-point scale how much they thought their friend would appreciate the surprise.
After the participants sent their notes and gifts, the team asked the recipients to rate how much they appreciated receiving a gift from an old friend. Again, the person who received the surprise gave a much higher value to the contact than the person who sent the gift.
“We found that people receiving the communication placed greater emphasis than those who initiated the communication on the element of surprise, and this increased focus on surprise was associated with higher esteem,” Liu adds. “We also found that people significantly underestimated others when communication was more surprising, as opposed to part of a regular communication pattern, or social connections between participants were weak.”
Don’t let the epidemic stand in your way
Researchers say that many people have lost touch with members of their social circle in recent years. Aside from people naturally distancing themselves from those who went to high school or college with them, the pandemic has added another layer of social isolation for some.
Moreover, the team says that people often worry about how a person will perceive a communicating gesture after a long period of silence. However, the new study finds that saying hi “just because” is a more welcome surprise than many might think.
“Sometimes I pause before reaching people from my pre-pandemic social circle for a variety of reasons. When that happens, I think about the results of this research and remind myself that others may also want to reach out to me and hesitate for the same reasons.” “Then I tell myself that I would be very grateful if they contacted me and that there was no reason to believe that they would not reciprocate my communication with them.”
The study was published in Journal of personality and social psychology.
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