Talking to strangers

Staff writer
13 Jun 2011

It's no surprise - talking to friends in public cuts us off from others. But surprisingly, reading news on a mobile device causes us to interact more with strangers. TechNewsDaily reports that making plans on the phone in public also spurs more public conversations.

A study from the University of Michigan offers some hope to social scientists worried about millions of people unable to connect in public anymore.

"We expected to find that frequency of cellphone use in public would cause people to have fewer interactions with strangers in public. But reading the news on your smartphone gives people something relevant to talk about with others who are also occupying that space," said report co-author Scott Campbell. "Information about public affairs is more relevant to a stranger than what you did last weekend."

Campbell said the "salience of news" motivates others to discuss it with others around them.

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