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Department of Psychology


The PhD research of post-doctoral Research Associate in the Department, Dr Gillian Sandstrom, was last week covered in a New York Times article, 'Hello, Stranger'.

Gillian's PhD research, which was conducted at the University of British Columbia in Canada, investigated whether social interactions with weak ties (acquaintances) are related to well-being. Although we may assume that our well-being depends solely on social interactions with our close friends and family, Gillian's research demonstrates that people are happier on days when they have more interactions with weak ties.

In one study, it was found that participants who engaged in a social interaction with a barista, by smiling, making eye contact and having a brief conversation (thus treating them like a weak social tie), experienced greater feelings of well-being and belonging than those whose interaction was limited to an efficient, but impersonal, commercial transaction.

Gillian's research into subjective well-being and social relationships is ongoing with her Departmental collaborator, Dr Jason Rentfrow.