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Experiences Become More Intense When Shared

If you’ve ever shared an exciting story with somebody then you’ve probably noticed how expressing yourself through words can sometimes put you right back in the moment. Reliving those thoughts and experiences can make things seem more vivid and intensify your experience. New research that has been published in the journal of Psychological Science shows just this, and reports that people who share their experiences, both in physical activeness and in verbal reports, find them more pleasant or unpleasant than when the experience is undergone individually.


A Better Understanding Of This Type Of Sharing


The study was completed using 23 female students at the university level, who attended a lab and met other participants who was actually the research team playing specially selected roles. Members from the two groups were paired together and made to participate in different activities such as tasting chocolate or viewing paintings. During each activity scientists monitored patients as they would first complete one of the tasks with their partner and perform it once on their own. Erica Boothby, a psychological scientist who lead this research project, and who hails from Yale University, has been quoted by Medical News Daily in saying: “When people are paying attention to the same pleasant thing, whether the Mona Lisa or a song on the radio, our research shows that the experience is much more pleasurable. And the reverse is true of unpleasant experiences - not sharing them makes them more pleasurable, while sharing them makes them worse."


Items being viewed were presented as two different items but were actually the same; for example, the chocolate used was from the same 70% dark chocolate bar, but students were told that the pieces were each from different bars. In the case where students tasted their chocolate with a partner, they reported that the chocolate was more enjoyable than the chocolate that was ingested while their partner was doing a separate activity. This proved that the act of tasting the chocolate was more intensified and left a better memory when it was shared rather than when nobody was there to agree or disagree with their decision.


Changing The Testing Pattern


The same test as above was given with a much darker 90% chocolate bar, and while students still reported having a more intense flavor profile while eating with a partner, this time the response was negative and participants found that they disliked the chocolate more when somebody else was eating it with them than when they ate a piece from the same bar on their own later. KTI Radio reports: “Although she only conducted the small study with women, Boothby says that shared experiences appear to be more intense whether with people we know well or even total strangers.”


The reasoning behind these changes isn’t completely known, but the research team has suggested that it may have something to do with the focus of attention that is placed on a particular experience when it is being shared with another person. Having somebody there who is performing the same task or experiencing the same situation makes it a more memorable event, and gave participants a reason to react more enthusiastically in both cases.


The Need To Share


Whether or not this sharing of intensified experiences is new to this generation or something that human beings have always subconsciously felt is unknown, but it is obvious that in these modern times with the internet connecting us all to one another that sharing lives does seem to be of the utmost importance to many. Think about the number of people who send photos of their dinner to their social networking feeds, post scores for sporting events that they are watching on television, or make general comments about their work day. By sharing these situations with others, it makes them more memorable, more enjoyable or not enjoyable, and in a way it makes them more real. This would also explain some of the romantic experiences that people are able to experience with total strangers on blind dates or upon first meeting each other. The Daily Mail says: “Sharing experiences with others makes them more intense, whether they are good or bad, experts claim. And shared experiences are intensified even if they happen in silence, or with someone who an individual has only just met.”


Sometimes running into somebody you’ve never met before, or an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time at a party or other social gathering can lead to a new friendship or rekindled romance due to the sharing of that activity. Having something in common with somebody and involving yourself in the human interaction that it brings, even if no words are exchanged at the time, most definitely makes that situation more memorable. There are also the many social experiences that people participate in simply to enjoy being near others while they experience it. Movie theaters, sports stadiums, special events, parties, and family holidays bring many people together in an activity that could be enjoyed alone in the privacy of your own home.


The Future Use Of These Findings


These scientific findings may be able to in some ways assist in the treatment of patients undergoing social related issues or psychological disorders. With children and young adults who have trouble making friends or socializing, having somebody complete a task with them or experience something, even if there is no actual personal interaction, could help to build a positive thought process in regards to how they view others. This could lead to better associations of people to positive experiences and make it easier for people who usually find it difficult to communicate to talk about what they have seen or done.


Whether this information leads to further experiments and knowledge in the scientific and medical community or it is simply available for public knowledge, the findings will contribute greatly to what you know and understand about human behavior. This subject is one that has stumped the scientific community for hundreds of years, which is why the study of sociology and anthropology is still well under way.

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