Researchers predicted that people would consistently underrate how much they might benefit from talking on the phone.Photograph by Stokkete / ShutterstockI’m one of the lucky ones. The onset of this pandemic has put a strain on the sanity of many people forced to isolate themselves from friends and family. If you live alone, or with roommates who you aren’t close with, you’ve likely had a harder time maintaining social connection compared to me, a husband and father. My in-laws, with whom my wife and I form a social pod, are a five-minute’s drive away. And across the bay, in San Francisco, live two of my best friends, with whom I’ve had a number of socially distanced “hangs.” Intimate communication is easy to come by. I’ve got 99 problems but feeling alone isn’t one. More isolated people, though, are reverting to a practice that we thought we had heard the last of. “Verizon said it was now handling an average of 800 million wireless calls a day during the week, more than double the number made on Mother’s Day, historically one of the busiest call days of the year,” reported The New York Times back in April. “Verizon added that the length of voice calls was up 33 percent from an average day before the outbreak. AT&T said that the number of cellular calls had risen 35 percent and that Wi-Fi-based calls had nearly doubled from averages in normal times.” Given this uptick in COVID-era calls, wouldn’t you think people had gotten over the modern reluctance, amid the ubiquity of smartphones, to speak with one another?Talking on the phone is much more satisfying than exchanging emails and text messages. Apparently not. In a recent study, psychologists Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley found that people are surprised to realize that talking on the phone is much more satisfying than exchanging emails and text messages. “People have these fears about awkwardness, and that seems to be part of what’s pushing them toward text-based media,” Kumar said, even after months of social distancing.The researchers predicted that the way people choose to communicate—by speaking or typing—would have to do at least a little with how they see the pros and cons of each option. You might view a text exchange with a relative as conversationally less onerous, for example. Kumar and Epley also predicted that people would consistently underrate how much they might benefit from talking on the phone. “We tested this hypothesis by asking participants in a field experiment to reconnect with an old friend either over the phone or e-mail, and by asking laboratory participants to ‘chat’ with a stranger over video, voice, or text-based media,” the researchers wrote. “Results indicated that interactions including voice (phone, video chat, and voice chat) created stronger social bonds and no increase in awkwardness, compared with interactions including text (e-mail, text chat), but miscalibrated expectations about awkwardness or connection could lead to suboptimal preferences for text-based media.” The title of their paper echoes its conclusion: “It’s surprisingly nice to hear you: Misunderstanding the impact of communication media can lead to suboptimal choices of how to connect with others.” Our hesitation to be close is based on an illusion that our spoken conversations won’t go as well as we hope. “It really seems like people are worried that it’s going to be awkward when you interact with another person using your voice, and those concerns seem to be overblown,” Kumar said. “We’re being asked to maintain physical distance,” he added, “but we still need these social ties for our well-being—even for our health.”It’s the sort of surprising finding that has become something of a trope for Kumar’s co-author, Epley. Earlier this year, Epley and his colleague Xuan Zhao found that people tend to underestimate how much other people will appreciate their compliments, and so will often forego saying something nice. In their paper, the researchers approvingly quote Mark Twain: “My child, I could live on a good compliment two weeks with nothing more to eat.” Twain was on to something. “A person,” Zhao and Epley wrote, “who assumes that another person will be satisfied with a single compliment for two weeks may do less [relationship] maintenance, at least in the form of positive affirmations and compliments, than would be optimal for both their own and others’ wellbeing.”Epley himself is a joy to speak to in person. On the heels of the release of his book, Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want, Epley sat down with Nautilus editor Kevin Berger, who noted that Epley’s research “has given him the confidence to compose a recipe for seeing into other people more clearly.” Watch, below, as Epley explains the number one reason why we don’t understand one another.You can find the whole conversation here and our excerpt of Epley’s Mindwise here.Brian Gallagher is an associate editor at Nautilus. Follow him on Twitter @bsgallagher.Read More…
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These crisis text lines and apps are an alternative to get help without having to call the suicide prevention hotline
Suicide has become the second leading cause of death for young Americans aged 10 to 24,...Suicide has become the second leading cause of death for young Americans aged 10 to 24, and the rate has skyrocketed over the past decade. Research shows that teenagers prefer texting to talking on the phone, even with friends. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a chat option, and there's a 24-hour crisis text line available, too. Several suicide prevention apps are also free to download. Visit Insider.com for more stories. The rate of Americans aged 10 to 24 who die by suicide has skyrocketed over the past decade, becoming the second highest cause of death among the demographic. Crisis hotlines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have been touted as the No. 1 resource for people with suicidal thoughts and intentions. But the latest research on teenage technology use shows they prefer texting to talking on the phone, even with their friends. After 16-year-old Channing Smith died by suicide last week, his brother, Joshua Smith, wondered in an interview with Insider whether a hotline is the most effective resource for young people who are preparing to take their own lives. Read more: A 16-year-old died by suicide after a classmate posted explicit messages between him and another boy on social media. Now, his family is seeking justice. Fortunately, some text-based services exist, along with suicide prevention apps that are free to download. Here are a few. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a 24-hour chat feature The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free resource for anyone in the US who is contemplating suicide. The dial-in number is 1-800-273-8255, but a chat feature is also available 24/7. "Anyone who is depressed, going through a hard time, needs to talk, or is thinking about suicide can use the chat," the website says. "The chat counselors are here to listen and support you through whatever difficult times you may be facing." The online chat feature has been available since 2010 through CONTACT USA's Crisis Chat system. The site also partners with Facebook as an alternate route to reach the chat feature. The Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 for anyone in the US Anyone in the US can text "HOME" or "CONNECT" to the number 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line, a service that is available 24/7. A live, trained crisis counselor can advise the person texting on any sort of crisis they are experiencing, including suicidal thoughts or intentions. The service is free. International versions of the Crisis Text Line can also be reached. The service is available in Canada, the UK, South Africa, and Ireland. Read more: Suicide is skyrocketing in young people, and their screens and smartphones have nothing to do with it The Trevor Project has a chat feature, hotline, and texting service The Trevor Project, a non-profit specifically focused on improving the lives of young LGBTQ people, has three free, 24/7 options for immediate assistance for anyone contemplating suicide. The TrevorLifeline can be contacted at 1-866-488-7386, while the TrevorChat and TrevorText services offer instant messaging access to a crisis counselor. Both services are confidential. The web chat feature works best through a desktop computer, while those using smartphones can text "START" to 678678. Suicide prevention apps are also available to download for free A number of free apps for suicide prevention are available to download. These include: A Friend Asks: Created by the suicide prevention organization the Jason Foundation, this app aims to teach users how to recognize if a friend is suicidal, and directs them to resources, along with tips to reach out proactively. MY3: This app asks users to choose three contacts, such as friends, family, loved ones, or mental health professionals, who can be available in times of crisis. It also helps users create a safety plan with warning signs, coping mechanisms, and resources. TalkLife: Developed by Harvard researchers, TalkLife encourages users to talk to each other on a peer-to-peer basis to offer support for mental health issues and listen to one another. Posting can be done anonymously. Other free resources are available online, too The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also provides useful guides, links, and resources to find a therapist or support group, build and use your own support group, make a safety plan, and get more info.Join the conversation about this story »