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The power of social connection

himoment
December 17, 2018

Humans are social animals, and our happiness is closely intertwined with being with other people. Some of our happiest moments are those that we share with others. Research has shown that experiencing moments with others enhances savouring, the ability to appreciate the positive impact of a moment (Jose et al, 2012). For example, one study showed that eating chocolate is more enjoyable when you get to share the experience with someone else (Boothby et al., 2014). Happier people have more close friends, stronger family and romantic connections, and spend more time with people than alone (Diener, Seligman, Choi & Oishi, 2018). One interesting study looked at social connection while commuting to work (on a train or bus) (Epley & Schroeder, 2014). Participants either had to have a conversation with someone, or had to enjoy themselves or do whatever they usually do. People predicted that they would be happiest enjoying their alone time, followed by what they usually do, and would feel weird about having a conversation. But people were wrong about their own happiness: the most positive experience was chatting to a stranger, and not solitude. A feeling of belonging intrinsically motivates humans to foster social connections (Baumeister & Leary, 1995).

One aspect of human social life is that we all engage in social comparisons: we evaluate our own abilities, salary, status, possessions, and feelings relative to those of other people. Is that person happier? More successful? Better looking? Social comparisons are a part of human social life (Baldwin & Mussweiler, 2018). Social comparison theory suggests that we compare ourselves to others in order to create accurate self-evaluations (Festinger, 1954). Comparisons happen in two directions: downward or upward. To put it simply, when we look down at others (who are doing worse) we feel good about ourselves while when we look up at others (who are doing better) we feel worse (Suls, Martin & Wheeler, 2002). Unfortunately, people are more likely to make upward rather than downward comparisons (Gerber et al., 2018). Social comparisons are especially important in times of social media. One study looked at downward and upward comparisons using Facebook. Facebook feeds packed with posts from people that appear to be better off made participants feel worse about themselves, resulting in lower self-evaluations and lower self-esteem (Vogel et al., 2014). Social media is here to stay, and with all its pros, it’s also important to consider its cons, especially how these social comparisons affect our interpersonal interactions and our wellbeing.

We are building an app that helps you focus on your moments, rather than wasting time and making yourself feel bad by comparing yourself to others, we also want to foster social connection rather than social comparison.It’s not about sharing it with everyone and it’s not about showing off. Instead, it’s about letting your friend know that you are grateful for having this hiMoment together and making sure it becomes a long-lasting memory for both of you.

When you add a hiMoment in the app that involved a friend, family or colleagues, either because you experienced it together or because something reminded you of him/her, you can also share this moment with that friend.

 

  • Jose, P. E, Lim, B. T. & Bryant, F. B. (2012) Does savoring increase happiness? A daily diary study, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7:3, 176-187.
  • Boothby, E. J, Clark, M. S., & Bargh J. A. (2014) Shared Experiences Are Amplified. Psychological Science, 25, 12, 2209-2216.
  • Diener, E., Seligman, M. E. P, Choi, H. & Oishi, S. (2018) Happiest People Revisited. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13, 2, 176-184.
  • Epley, N., & Schroeder, J. (2014). Mistakenly seeking solitude. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(5), 1980-1999.
  • Baumeister, R. F. & Leary, M. R. (1995) The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497.
  • Baldwin, M. & Mussweiler, M. (2018). The culture of social comparison. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, 39, E9067-E9074.
  • Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117-140.
  • Suls, J., Martin, R. & Wheeler, L. (2002) Social comparison: Why, with whom, and with what effect? Current Directions Psychological Science, 11, 159-163.
  • Gerber, J. P., Wheeler, L., & Suls, J. (2018). A social comparison theory meta-analysis 60+ years on. Psychological Bulletin, 144(2), 177-197.
  • Vogel, E. A., Rose, J. P., Roberts, R. L. & Eckles, K. (2014) Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 3(4), 206-222.