Most people avoid chatting with strangers when they’re on public transport or waiting in a queue, but striking up a conversation may actually improve your day.

Researchers conducted a study that was published in the journal Experimental Psychology. A group of commuters in Chicago were asked to either talk with a stranger on a train, or sit quietly alone, or do whatever they would normally do on their journey. Afterwards, they responded to a survey about how they felt.

The results showed that the people who engaged with strangers had the most pleasurable experience, while those who remained solitary had the least enjoyable experience. These results were compared with another group of people who did not participate in the study, but they had to predict how they would feel in each situation. These people assumed talking with strangers would be the least enjoyable experience.

Why is it that most people avoid chatting with strangers? According to subsequent research it’s because we wrongly assume that strangers won’t want to talk to us. Now you know, that’s not necessarily true. Of course it pays to observe people’s body language; that will give you clues on whether they’re receptive to conversation or not. The vast majority of people are receptive to a couple of friendly sentences.