The Contagion of Happiness

New research at Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego suggests that when it comes to happiness, we’re all interconnected.

“We have known for a long time that there is a direct relationship between one person’s happiness and another’s,” Fowler tells WebMD.

“But this study shows that indirect relationships also affect happiness. We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness.”

Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, the happiness study reconstituted the social networks of 4,739 Framingham participants and ‘measured’ their happiness from 1983 to 2003.  Go to WebMD for details on the probability a subject’s happiness will increase in relation to a happy, immediate social contact, a happy second-degree contact and a happy, third-degree contact.

I’m not really excited by the numbers — I’m more interested to learn that not just happiness but also sadness spreads, even if less ‘efficiently’,  through social networks.  Again, evidence of interconnection.

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