Extraordinary experiences could hurt your relationships

Posted on October 8, 2014

Extraordinary experiences are pleasurable in the moment but can leave us socially worse off in the long run. If you’ve just returned from an exotic getaway, gushing about it may harm your relationships, suggests a study published in the journal Psychological Science.

The researcher showed different videos to 68 participants, divided into groups of four. In each group, three people watched video of a “2-star” rated cartoon, while the fourth person watched a “3-star” rated film of a street magician. The participants then sat together for five minutes of unstructured conversation. Those who watched the magician video— called the “extraordinary experiencers”— said they felt excluded during the discussion, while those who watched the mundane action did not.

Participants all thought that an “extraordinary experiencer” would be happiest and feel the least isolated because he or she was the center of attention. But they were wrong because to be extraordinary is to be different than other people, and social interaction is grounded in similarities. If an experience turns you into someone who has nothing in common with others, then no matter how good it was, it won't make you happy in the long run.

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