When you are on your commute, would it prefer it be alone or with friends? I’m sure you would say friends. I would too. Beyond the opportunity to catch-up, there is an unmistakable feeling of belonging being with comrades. You and your friends are journeying together into your respective working worlds. In medieval times, it could be like soldiers riding to battle. You might say that is a stretch, but you can’t deny they both share this feeling of comradeship.

Boothby et. al (2014) did a study on the effect of sharing an experience. They put two people together and had them eat chocolate. One group of pairs ate the chocolate together, and the other group only had one person in the pair eat the chocolate while the other did something else. What they found was surprising. The shared experience of eating the chocolate together, in silence, amplified the pleasantness of the experience. Compare this to the second group where only one person eats. The vectors across which they rated pleasantness include how much they liked the chocolate, and flavourfulness.

The data suggests that the people in the first group’s higher satisfaction is attributed to the sharing of the experience. The comradeship between the two chocolate-eaters enhance the experience. It is noteworthy that the subjects were instructed to not say anything to each other, just to eat.

It is important to differentiate between comradeship and camaraderie. While they are often substitutes, the former implies the company of others with common aims while the later is the company of others with whom you spend a lot of time. You can have a sense of camaraderie with your coworkers, while you might feel a comradeship with fellow jurors in a jury service.

This then begs the question, does this effect extend to everyday situations like when you are on commute? Try adopting the same attitudes as in the study i.e. look at your fellow bus or train passengers as your comrades. Everyone is on their way to work or school, you just happen to be sharing the same transport. Imagine the collective good all your fellow comrades on your commute will do that day. Thinking in this way turns the commuting experience on its head, from a chore to a privilege.


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