'Small talk' has always been taken to mean something negative. However, researchers now claim that that's not the case anymore. While the researchers have stated that people who engage in more substantive conversations tend to be happier, small talk isn't all that negatively related to well-being. “Researchers found that idle small talk is not necessarily negatively related to well-being, contrary to previous findings,” said study co-author Matthias Mehl, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona.
The study concluded that while meaningful and long conversations matter more, small talk seems to have no relationship with happiness one way or the other. Overall, study participants who engaged in a greater number of substantive conversations were happier, regardless of whether they had more introverted or extroverted personalities. “Although small talk didn’t have any direct link to participants’ well-being, it may still be important, in that it can help lay the groundwork for more substantive conversations,” added Mehl.
“We do not think any more that there is an inherent tension between having small talk and having substantive conversations. Small talk didn’t positively contribute to happiness, and it didn’t negatively contribute to it,” said Mehl, who carried out the work alongside lead author Anne Milek. Now, while the study does establish a link between substantive conversations and happiness, there's no actual proof that substantive conversations actually makes people happier.
The full findings of this study are published in the journal, Psychological Science.