You've just gone on a wonderful vacation, and now you want to tell your friends all about it. But a new study in Psychological Science finds that doing just that could actually end up making you feel bad. Essentially, researchers found that people would rather talk about an ordinary experience that was shared among them than discuss an extraordinary experience only one member of the group had. Meaning that, if you bust out your Paris photos at the next dinner party, you may end up feeling excluded. Researchers came to their conclusions by showing people one of two films—either an excellent one or a mediocre one—and then putting them in groups to discuss what they had just watched. The groups were made up of three people who saw the "ordinary" movie and just one who saw the "extraordinary" one, and the lone viewer who got to watch the good movie ended up feeling left out—and actually reported feeling significantly worse after the discussion than those who were subjected to the bad movie.
And, not surprisingly, people wrongly predicted that getting to see the better movie would, in turn, make their social interactions better. "Our subjects thought they would be the star of the interaction, and they were surprised they were left out of it," a co-author explains to the New York Times. "They didn’t understand why everyone else wanted to commiserate [about the sub-par movie] rather than hear about their great one." As the study author puts it in a press release, "Extraordinary experiences are pleasurable in the moment but can leave us socially worse off in the long run. ... Social interaction is grounded in similarities." But, he tells the Boston Globe, "I definitely don’t want to say the take-home message to be you never seek experiences that are unique and awesome, because that’s just silly." He further explains to Medical News Today, "The idea is that people don't naturally consider the social costs of having extraordinary experiences. Sometimes the costs will outweigh the benefits. Sometimes the benefits will be worth the costs." (Read more vacation stories.)