According to a new study done by Purdue University published in Psychological Science, the need to feel connected is very important even if the connection is with a complete stranger. People just generally want to feel accepted or feel like they belong to a group even if the acknowledgement is from someone they had never met before making eye contact on the street.
The study was conducted on a traffic heavy path on the campus. A research assistant was tasked with walking along the path and acknowledging passerby’s by making eye contact, making eye contact and smiling, or completely ignoring the person. The person was then stopped and asked about what they felt about the research assistant’s acknowledgement or lack of.
Those who received some sort of eye contact whether it involved a smile or not were more likely to feel less disconnected than those who were ignored completely.
This study helped to show that feeling connected causes happiness. It really does not matter what type of circles that people belong to. Everyone just seems to want to belong. The study showed that even when snubbed by complete strangers it can affect that connected feeling and “hurts.”
In the article it was mentioned that previous studies had been conducted, and it was discovered that even a connection was needed from groups that people really wanted nothing to do with such as the Klu Klux Klan. This seemed to show that people do not want to be ignored by other individuals no matter who they may be.
Co-writer of the study, Eric D. Wesselmann stated, “These are people that you don’t know, just walking by you, but them looking at you or giving you the air gaze—looking through you—seemed to have at least momentary effect.” Wesselman further states that the human connection is a “very strong phenomenon.”