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Socializing boosts mood more than screentime

Erica Techo

People expect more enjoyment in conversation than on smartphones, but don’t always follow that instinct

It turns out people might prefer social interactions over their smartphones, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop scrolling.

A new study from researchers in the University of Georgia’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences found that when asked to scroll on their phones, sit quietly by themselves or have a conversation with a stranger, participants typically found talking was the most enjoyable.

“When people are out in the real world, they have these options,” said lead author and doctoral student Christina Leckfor. “We were interested in getting a sense of how people compare their options, both in terms of how they expect to feel and then how they actually feel after doing these things.”

To delve into these perceptions, researchers broke study participants into four groups. Two groups predicted how they would feel about different actions, and two groups completed the assigned actions. All groups then ranked options from most to least enjoyable. To gauge feelings around these tasks, all four groups used a 0 to 100 scale to rate how likely they were to experience a positive or negative emotion from a task.

“We thought people might underestimate how much they would enjoy talking to a stranger and overestimate how much they would enjoy using their smartphones,” Leckfor said. “But that’s not what we found. Across our studies, people were actually more accurate in predicting how they would feel than we thought they’d be.”

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