Study Says Your pals Enjoy it Whenever you Get in touch with Them

People consistently underestimate just how much others in their social circle might appreciate an unexpected phone call, text or email simply to say hello, and the more surprising the bond, the greater the appreciation, according to research authored by the American Psychological Association.

“People are fundamentally social beings and revel in connecting with other people,” said lead author Peggy Liu, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh. “There's much research showing that maintaining social connections will work for our mental and physical health. However, despite the importance and enjoyment of social connection, our research suggests that individuals significantly underestimate how much others will appreciate being reached out to.”

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Researchers conducted a number of experiments involving a lot more than 5,900 participants that explored how accurate individuals are at estimating how much others might appreciate an attempt for connecting and just what factors might play into that level of appreciation.

In one experiment, half the participants were asked to recall the before they reached to someone within their social circle “just because” or “simply to catch up” via email, text or phone, after a prolonged period of not getting together with them. The rest of the participants were inspired to recall an identical situation where someone reached to them. Participants were then asked to indicate on a 7-point scale how much either they or even the person they reached out to appreciated, felt grateful, felt thankful or felt pleased by the contact. People who recalled reaching out thought the gesture they recalled was significantly less appreciated than those who recalled getting a communication.

In other experiments, participants sent a brief note, or a note and a small gift, to a person within their social circle with whom they'd not interacted in a while. Similar to the previous experiment, participants who initiated contact were inspired to rate on a 7-point scale the extent that they thought the recipient would appreciate, feel grateful for, and feel pleased through the contact. After the notes/gifts were sent, researchers also asked the recipients to rate their appreciation.

Across all experiments, people who initiated the communication significantly underestimated the extent to which recipients would understand the act of reaching out. They also found one interesting variable that affected how much a person appreciated a touch base.

“We discovered that people receiving the communication placed greater focus than those initiating the communication on the surprise element, which heightened concentrate on surprise was associated with higher appreciation,” said Liu. “We also found that people underestimated others’ appreciation to a larger extent once the communication was more surprising, instead of a part of a normal communication pattern, or the social ties between the two participants were weak.”

Many individuals have lost touch with other people in their lives, whether they’re friends from senior high school or college or co-workers they used to see in the water cooler before work went remote, based on Liu. Initiating social contact after a prolonged duration of disconnect can seem to be daunting because people worry about how such a gesture might be received. These bits of information suggest that their hesitations might be unnecessary, as other medication is prone to appreciate being reached out to more than people think.

“I sometimes pause before contacting people from my pre-pandemic social circle for a variety of reasons. When that happens, I think about these research findings and remind myself that others could also want to reach out to me and hesitate for the same reasons,” Liu said. “I then tell myself which i would be thankful a lot if they reached to me and that there is no reason to think they would not similarly appreciate my contacting them.”

1. Liu, Peggy J., SoYon Rim, Lauren Min, and Kate E. Min. The Surprise of Reaching Out: Appreciated More than We Think. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 2023 DOI: