While we can design the best websites with the most up-to-date and thorough information, there’s something about an actual phone call that’s just so much more comforting than any webpage could ever be.
So what is it that makes walking away from a conversation more satisfying than a glance at a webpage? New research from a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin may suggest the answer.
Led by anthropologist Leslie Seltzer, the study focused on mother/daughter communication and stress relief.
According to Wired Magazine, the study went something like this:
Sixty-four girls between the ages of 7 and 12 were put through a stressful situation, and some of them were afterwards allowed to talk to their mothers. Of the girls that could talk with their moms, some had a face-to-face conversation, some only chatted over the phone, and the rest could only instant message.
And here’s the outcome (from Wired):
As expected, girls who heard their mother’s voice, either in person or on the phone, were consoled. But among girls who used IM, hormone levels barely changed. Translated into words on a screen, mom’s words seemingly lost their comforting power.
According to Seltzer, the results suggest that mom’s voice — its tones and intonations and rhythms, known formally as prosodics — trigger soothing effects, rather than what she specifically says.
So the information doesn’t really matter; it’s all about how you’re getting it.
Wouldn’t that be great?