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According to studies conducted by some of the most prestigious universities, people don’t actually enjoy hearing each other’s travel stories. Yet, people love telling them.
This research, conducted between 2013 and 2017, was recently the crux of a Vox post and the response seemed to be unanimous: Keep your vacation tales to yourself. So, we decided to conduct our own research, asking TPG Lounge members about the topic. Turns out, those in the points & miles game have a different opinion.
One of the more detailed studies conducted by Harvard University in 2013 aimed to examine the brain when individuals talked about themselves and listened to other individuals do the same. The study used advanced fMRI technology to map the brains of participants. It found that when participants talked about themselves or about something they liked or an opinion they held, areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward were stimulated. At the same time, when other participants were asked to listen to participants talk about themselves, those areas of the brain did not receive stimulation. Ultimately, the study found that people love talking about themselves — yet don’t necessarily like it so much when hearing about others.
Similarly, other studies found that people enjoy hearing about experiences to which they can relate, while accounts of extraordinary experiences do not bring as much pleasure or enjoyment.
When we apply these studies to travel, they show why people might not receive the desired reaction from those around them when discussing an exotic getaway or an exceptional first class flight. Similarly, these studies provide some explanation to why someone might react more positively to an anecdote about a miserable experience with airport security. People enjoy hearing about relatable experiences.
TPG surveyed our Lounge members to see if they felt the same way, asking the following question: “Do you find it annoying or helpful to hear about other people’s vacations?” Readers overwhelmingly stated that they found it helpful to hear about others’ vacations. Out of 334 readers who responded to our poll, 313 said they found hearing about other people’s vacations helpful, while just 21 said they found hearing about them to be annoying.
The poll directly contradicts the studies mentioned above, likely because TPGers are actively looking for travel ideas. They’re also well-traveled and enjoy hearing about how getting the most out of those points & miles.
Commenter Becky B. said, “I find it helpful when they give real information that actually helps. I want specifics, like tour and excursion companies that were used and the prices, transportation info, off the beaten path things to do, accommodations, food, etc.”
Another reader commented that, “If it’s annoying to you obviously you are envious.” This was a popular sentiment among responders.
TPG poll aside, the overwhelming evidence resulting from the studies shows that people just aren’t interested in hearing travel stories unless they can relate to them. Next time you’re about to tell a co-worker about your around-the-world first class mileage redemption, make sure you remember that you may very well be the only person who enjoys hearing about it.
(Featured image courtesy of Knape / Getty Images)
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