Social Interactions and Well-Being: The Surprising Power of Weak Ties

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2014 Jul;40(7):910-922. doi: 10.1177/0146167214529799. Epub 2014 Apr 25.


Although we interact with a wide network of people on a daily basis, the social psychology literature has primarily focused on interactions with close friends and family. The present research tested whether subjective well-being is related not only to interactions with these strong ties but also to interactions with weak social ties (i.e., acquaintances). In Study 1, students experienced greater happiness and greater feelings of belonging on days when they interacted with more classmates than usual. Broadening the scope in Studies 2A and 2B to include all daily interactions (with both strong and weak ties), we again found that weak ties are related to social and emotional well-being. The current results highlight the power of weak ties, suggesting that even social interactions with the more peripheral members of our social networks contribute to our well-being.

Keywords: belonging; social interactions; social relationships; subjective well-being; weak ties.