Most people spend part of every day surrounded by strangers, whether on their daily commute, sitting in a park or cafe, or visiting the supermarket.
Yet many of us remain in self-imposed isolation, believing that reaching out to a stranger would make you both feel uncomfortable.
These beliefs may be unwarranted. In fact, our research suggests we may often underestimate the positive impact of connecting with others for both our own and others' wellbeing.
For example, having a conversation with a stranger on your way to work may leave you both feeling happier than you would think.
We asked bus and train commuters in Chicago how they would feel about striking up a conversation on their morning commute, compared to sitting in solitude or doing whatever they normally do. Most thought that talking would lead to the least pleasant commute.
However, when we actually carried out the experiment, those randomly assigned to talk had the most pleasant commute.