April 3, 2022

Why Talking To Strangers Is Actually Good For Your Wellbeing | Nick Epley

Do you strike up a conversation with a stranger on a plane or while waiting in line? If you don’t already, you will after listening to Nick Epley in this episode. Nick talks through his extensive research about talking to people we encounter and how it actually boosts our wellbeing. 


While many of us prefer engaging in some small talk with strangers, Nick advocates for the benefits of having a deep and meaningful conversation with people. The problem is, how do we actually start such a conversation with the person who just sat down next to us? Fear not, Nick delves into why we’re reluctant and how we can overcome our hesitation.


Nick Epley is the John Templeton Keller Professor of Behavior Science and Director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He studies social cognition — how thinking people think about other thinking people — to understand why smart people so routinely misunderstand each other. Recently Nick has written the book Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want” and he talks in his interview about what he's working on next.


As always, hosts Kurt and Tim end the show with a light-hearted Grooving Session to summarize what we have learnt from our guest. I’m sure you will agree that Nick’s interview leaves us with lots of helpful insights. But if there is just one thing you take away from this episode, great listeners, is never hesitant to seize the opportunity to pay a compliment.


© 2022 Behavioral Grooves



(3:40) Welcome and speed round questions.

(4:57) Why it’s better to have a deep and meaningful conversation with a stranger?

(7:18) Why are we reluctant to talk to strangers about something meaningful?

(13:46) Why did Nick start studying undersociality? 

(21:06) What happens when strangers talk on a train?

(29:33) How do you start a conversation with a stranger?

(33:20) The benefits of a compliment.

(39:21) Nick’s work in the future.

(43:35) The mind-blowing way to get someone else’s perspective?

(47:49) What music influences Nick.

(51:24) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim discussing what we learned from Nick Epley.



Nicholas Epley: www.nicholasepley.com

Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want” by Nick Epley: https://amzn.to/3IodtLV

Gary Becker: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/1992/becker/facts/ 

Liz Dunn at University of British Columbia: https://psych.ubc.ca/profile/elizabeth-dunn/ 

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/how-to-be-influential-jon-levy/

Behavioral Grooves Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves


Musical Links

Metallica “Master of Puppets”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnKhsTXoKCI 

David Tolk, piano player “Amazing Grace”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X24B_2TjPQ 

“All Creatures Great and Small” music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hLXxQPkAGk 


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