The case for talking politics


People who have quality conversations throughout the day tend to be happier than those who stick mainly to small talk, reports a new study in Psychological Science. The results held true for both introverts and extroverts.


The researchers defined small talk as interactions that don’t teach you anything about the other person, while substantive conversations involve more meaningful topics like politics or relationships.

“Humans need social contact, but we also need to connect with our social networks in ways that validate our thoughts and feelings, make us feel understood, and affirm our world views,” says study co-author Matthias Mehl, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Most people have deeper dialogues with those close to them and stick to small talk with strangers. But this study makes a case for going beyond trivial chatter with everyone you interact with, whether it’s a one-time Uber driver or the barista you see every morning.


Your long-term happiness can benefit from having more substantial conversations with people, no matter how surface-level your relationship is. Social satisfaction comes from sharing things about yourself and learning about others, Mehl says, so make sure to do a little bit of both.