May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Science Says Setting Up Your Friends Makes You Feel Good

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Setting up your friends might be good for them, but it’s probably better for you, says a new study out of Harvard Business School and Duke University, to be published in this month’s issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science. Being matched, after all, is hit or miss. But according to researchers, playing cupid — even a kind of shitty cupid — brings “intrinsic happiness to the matchmaker.”

Not that aspiring Yentas can reap the benefits by matching up people willy-nilly. Scientists say you’ve got to at least try. Through a series of three experiments — one where people made matches they actively thought were good ideas, one where people made matches based on a random characteristic (your social security number ends in nine, too?!), and one where people made matches between people likely to hate each other — the research team determined that you only get feel-good points if you tried to hook up people who you believe might actually like each other. You get the boost whether or not the match works out, so as long as you genuinely think your pairing was a good plan, match away — science says you’ll feel great.

But to feel really great, researchers say you’ve got to take it a step further. Obvious introductions will make you happy, but introducing people who were unlikely to meet otherwise will make you happier. Not only do you get to feel virtuous that way — you made a match! — but you also get to feel connected. Seeing potential pairings across social groups means you’ve got “the social acumen to recognize a social link that others hadn’t.” When those people get married and live happily ever after, you are going to get to feel so smug. You knew! And even if it’s a disaster, you still get to feel good about your social acumen, so whatever.

The study didn’t look at social fallout from bad matches — that’s for a follow-up — so until proven otherwise, scientists recommend you match away. But be thoughtful about it. The goal should be creating “meaningful connections.” That makes sense. Be nice! Or at the very least, act like it — presumably, you’ll have to see these people again.

[h/t Medical Daily]