Having meaningful social interactions with peers is associated with lower loneliness and greater affective well-being, a new study has shown. 

To conduct the study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers followed three cohorts of university students over three years, collecting data on their social interactions and momentary well-being.

“Our research indicates that engaging in meaningful social interactions has net positive outcomes for affective well-being, stress, and loneliness,” said lead author Mahnaz Roshanaei, of Stanford University.

“Spending more time in substantive and deep conversations with anyone with either strong or weak ties, results in benefits for the average person`s well-being outcomes,” she added.

The study found greater benefits for well-being when meaningful social interactions happened in person (or face-to-face), compared to other communication channels like direct messaging and texting.

Meaningful social interactions while resting resulted in higher well-being than those occurring during activities such as studying or dining.

The researchers acknowledged that their study had limitations, including the fact that it focused on university students and may not be generalisable to the general population or outside of the US.

“In the future, the results of this study can be used in designing personalised intervention-oriented strategies for encouraging healthy social lives, such as personalised recommendations for maintaining social support and connections,” said Roshanaei.

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