The best way to make a good movie great might be to watch it with someone else. According to new research published in Psychological Science, experiences may feel more intense -- whether they're good or bad -- when someone else is there to share them.
In the small study, subjects shared chocolate with someone they thought was another study participant (in fact, it was a researcher who always played the same role). In each case, they were given two pieces of chocolate. One was eaten at the same time that the fake participant also ate a piece, while the other was eaten while the researcher pretended to work on another task. Even though the chocolate was actually from the same bar, subjects rated it as tastier and more enjoyable when someone else was eating it, too.
With just this half of the experiment, it's impossible to say whether the experience was "more intense" or just more enjoyable. Maybe people would enjoy any experience more -- good or bad -- if someone were going through the same thing with them.
The researchers went further by having another group of subjects undergo the same test with bitter, unpleasant chocolate. Sure enough, they rated the pieces they ate with a partner as more disgusting than those they ate alone.
“When people think of shared experience, what usually comes to mind is being with close others, such as friends or family, and talking with them,” lead researcher Erica Boothby of Yale University said in a statement. “We don’t realize the extent to which we are influenced by people around us whom we don’t know and aren’t even communicating with.”
This study only looked at female college students, so it's not exactly the final word on how humans share their experiences. But it d0es suggest that using the buddy system might make a good day a little bit brighter -- and that maybe we should be going on our least pleasant errands solo.