According to a new study, we all underestimate how much people in our social circle appreciate an unexpected phone call, text or email just to say hello. Moreover, the more surprising the connection, the greater the appreciation. These findings were published by the American Psychological Association in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“People are fundamentally social beings and like to connect with others. A lot of research shows that maintaining social connections is good for our mental and physical health. However, despite the importance and enjoyment of social connections, our research suggests that people significantly underestimate how much others will appreciate being contacted,” said lead author Peggy Liu of the University of Pittsburgh.
To reach this conclusion, experiments were conducted with 5,900 people. Objective ? Determine how well people come to estimate how much others might appreciate a connection attempt.
An underestimated benefit
In one experiment, half of participants were asked to recall the last time they contacted someone in their social circle by email, text or phone, after an extended period of not interacting with them. . Other participants were asked to recall a similar situation where someone had reached out to them. Participants were then asked to rate on a 7-point scale (“ranging from not at all” to “to a great extent”) how much they or the person contacted enjoyed, felt grateful, or satisfied with the contact. Thus, the people making the contact thought that the gesture was much less appreciated than those who had received the call or the message.
Indeed, in all experiments, those who initiated the communication drastically underestimated the extent to which the recipients would appreciate the handshake.
“We found that the people receiving the communication placed more emphasis than those initiating the communication on the element of surpriseand this increased focus on surprise was associated with greater appreciation”, notes the researcher in a press release. Before completing: “We also found that people underestimated the appreciation of others more when communication was more surprising, as opposed to being part of a regular communication pattern, or that the social ties between the two participants were weak”.
Over the years, it is common to lose contact with childhood friends. If you want to contact them, it is better to do so without fearing how this gesture will be perceived. Indeed, the latter will probably appreciate this contact more than we think.