Anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski noted in 1923 that a great deal of talk "does not serve any purpose of communicating ideas" but "to establish bonds of personal union." He also said that small talk was merely a way to fill the silence.
He was wrong. Small talk is not just for those seeking companionship. It enacts and reinforces social roles in a whole range of social, commercial, and professional settings.
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One study revealed that participants interpreted a neutral expression as happy or sad to match the tone of the music they heard.
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