Why Talking To Strangers Is Actually Good For Your Wellbeing | Nick Epley

Do you strike up a conversation with a stranger on a plane or while waiting in line? If you don’t already, you will after listening to Nick Epley in this episode. Nick talks through his extensive research about talking to people we encounter and how it actually boosts our wellbeing.

A lot of our happiness & well being in life comes from the quality of our connections with other people, both weak ties - strangers & acquaintances, as well as deep ties - family, close friends & spouses. ~ Nick Epley Click To Tweet

While many of us prefer engaging in some small talk with strangers, Nick advocates for the benefits of having a deep and meaningful conversation with people. The problem is, how do we actually start such a conversation with the person who just sat down next to us? Fear not, Nick delves into why we’re reluctant and how we can overcome our hesitation.

We fail to appreciate just how social other people are. ~ Nick Epley Click To Tweet

Nick Epley is the John Templeton Keller Professor of Behavior Science and Director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He studies social cognition — how thinking people think about other thinking people — to understand why smart people so routinely misunderstand each other. Recently Nick has written the book Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want” and he talks in his interview about what he’s working on next.

We only learn from the things we do, not from the things we don't do. And so beliefs that are avoidance oriented...are likely to be the most miscalibrated because we don't learn from experiences we don't have. ~ Nick Epley Click To Tweet

As always, hosts Kurt and Tim end the show with a light-hearted Grooving Session to summarize what we have learnt from our guest. I’m sure you will agree that Nick’s interview leaves us with lots of helpful insights. But if there is just one thing you take away from this episode, great listeners, is never hesitant to seize the opportunity to pay a compliment.

© 2022 Behavioral Grooves


(3:40) Welcome and speed round questions.

(4:57) Why it’s better to have a deep and meaningful conversation with a stranger?

(7:18) Why are we reluctant to talk to strangers about something meaningful?

(13:46) Why did Nick start studying undersociality?

(21:06) What happens when strangers talk on a train?

(29:33) How do you start a conversation with a stranger?

(33:20) The benefits of a compliment.

(39:21) Nick’s work in the future.

(43:35) The mind-blowing way to get someone else’s perspective?

(47:49) What music influences Nick.

(51:24) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim discussing what we learned from Nick Epley.

What To Listen To Next

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets

AIRDATE: April 3, 2022 EPISODE 287

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Why Talking To Strangers Is Actually Good For Your Wellbeing | Nick Epley