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Talking to Strangers

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  • Create Date January 21, 2023
  • Last Updated January 17, 2024

Talking to Strangers

How has talking to strangers influenced your life or way of thinking? What happened?

A growing number of studies from Toronto to Turkey have found that when people do make an effort to talk to strangers, it usually goes far better than they anticipated. Study participants report that they are much better at it than they predict, and the strangers they speak to are generally receptive, interesting, and interested.

That said, there are many norms that discourage people from talking to strangers. We worry that we’re not allowed to do it, that we’ll be rejected, that we won’t know what to say, or that the people will dislike us. The prospect of talking to someone from another group–be it racial, gender-based, ideological–can further heighten those anxieties, especially if we don’t have regular contact with members of that group

This conversation is inspired in part by themes found in Joe Keohane’s book The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Talking to Strangers in a Suspicious World.

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