Text your mate - it's more appreciated than you think according to this study - The Guide Liverpool

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Text your mate – it’s more appreciated than you think according to this study


Getting in touch with a friend with a voice note, a call or a text is more appreciated than you might think, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people consistently underestimate how much others in their social circle might appreciate unexpected contact.

Research from the University of Pittsburgh also found people were even more grateful for the contact when it came as a surprise.

The lead researcher behind the paper urged people to get in touch with friends and loved ones – particularly those they have lost touch with during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, involved a number of experiments on more than 5,900 participants to assess whether people accurately understand how much others value being reached out to.

In one assessment, half the participants were asked to recall the last time they reached out to someone in their social circle “just because” or “just to catch up” via email, text or phone, after a prolonged period of not interacting with them.

Other participants were asked to recall a similar situation where someone reached out to them.

They then rated their appreciation of the contact.

Those who reached out were significantly less likely to highly rate the levels of appreciation of the contact compared to those who were contacted.

Researchers found similar results when people reached out to someone in their social circle they had not spoken to for some time.

They also found that if there was an element of surprise to the contact, the appreciation was even higher.

Lead author Peggy Liu, of the University of Pittsburgh, said:

“People are fundamentally social beings and enjoy connecting with others.

“There is much 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 suggests that people significantly underestimate how much others will appreciate being reached out to.”

She added: “We also found that people underestimated others’ appreciation to a greater extent when the communication was more surprising, as opposed to part of a regular communication pattern, or the social ties between the two participants were weak.”

On the impact of the pandemic, the researchers said that initiating social contact after a prolonged period of disconnect can feel daunting but their results suggest these concerns may be unnecessary.

“I sometimes pause before reaching out to people from my pre-pandemic social circle for a variety of reasons,” Dr Liu said.

“When that happens, I think about these research findings and remind myself that other people may also want to reach out to me and hesitate for the same reasons.

“I then tell myself that I would appreciate it so much if they reached out to me and that there is no reason to think they would not similarly appreciate my reaching out to them.”

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