"I am a part of all that I have met." (Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 –1892) Every person leaves at least a small impact on those they come in contact with and speak to. Human beings are some of the most social animals on the planet and yet the majorities of us walk past the same people daily yet do not attempt to engage one another. My interest is in the many individuals who also experience unique problems in making inter-personal connections with others. Managing work obligations, household needs, and family responsibilities often leaves little time for social interaction. In addition, others lack the social skills to initiate a conversation with stranger face-to-face as opposed to conversing via some technological medium.
The web-based media company, SoulPancake, created a social experiment by building a giant ball pit and hanging a large banner inviting people to "Take a seat-Make a Friend." In this experiment, two strangers would enter the ball pit, pick up a ball with a questions or tasks written on it, and proceed to have a conversation. What transpired is that people of varying ages made a connection with one another upon discovering a common interest or shared experience. ("SoulPancake Activities How Do You Make Friends With Strangers?," 2011.).
Lizette Borelli of Medical Daily wrote, "As children, we're taught to avoid eye contact, stay far away, and not talk to strangers, but as adults, small talk with unfamiliar people could positively impact our well-being. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, commuters report a significantly more positive commute and greater well-being after talking to a stranger." ("Hello, Stranger: Talking With Strangers During Morning Commute Boosts Emotional Health," Jul 22, 2014).
Materials and Methods .
This study was a qualitative observational analysis of random consumers shopping at the Freehold Raceway Mall in New Jersey that were willing to enter the ball pit and engage with a previously unknown person regardless of age, race, religion, or orientation.