Heading to the office or heading back home after a long day at work aren’t the best conditions for socializing, particularly if you’re on the subway.
And while commuters are often wary about making any kind of eye contact with a stranger, Nicholas Epley, a professor at University of Chicago Booth School of Business, says it may be not be such a bad idea to open up a little bit, even if you think you might get ignored or even socked in the jaw.
Epley conducted a number of experiments on Chicago’s rail line in which participants at first believed that keeping to themselves would prove to make their commutes more enjoyable. They also expressed fear of speaking to someone, worried there’d be no reciprocation.
However, the dread they expressed appeared to melt away as the participants reported that socializing on the subway was easier than they had anticipated, saying that they liked initiating a conversation and being spoken to by a stranger.
For those still reluctant to make the leap, Epley suggests the more you socialize, the easier it will become.