image by axinia
That is what I always suspected and now it is official: Happiness is contagious!
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego have found that “happiness” is not the result solely of a cloistered journey filled with individually tailored self-help techniques. Happiness is also a collective phenomenon that spreads through social networks like an emotional contagion.
In a study that looked at the happiness of nearly 5000 individuals over a period of twenty years, researchers found that when an individual becomes happy, the network effect can be measured up to three degrees. One person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only their friends, but their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends. The effect lasts for up to one year. Conversely, sadness does not spread through social networks as robustly as happiness (!).
They also found that, contrary to what your parents taught you, popularity does lead to happiness. People in the center of their network clusters are the most likely people to become happy, odds that increase to the extent that the people surrounding them also have lots of friends.
This is the first study to demonstrate the indirect spread of happiness, showing that one person’s emotional state can be affected by someone he doesn’t directly know. Previous research has shown that certain behavior-based phenomena such as obesity and smoking cessation spread through networks like a social contagion, but this is the first to demonstrate that emotions can as well. This research adds further proof to the idea that because we are all interconnected in social networks, our health is interconnected.
Interesting graphics and research results here.
What I love about these findings is that is sets up a clear message: my own happiness is NOT ONLY MY OWN, it has an impact on so many people around… In fact, even if every 4th person will be a happy one, the world will be saved!!! The question is then how to become that happy person? – my simple recipe is here.
P.S I wonder what they will find out by researching bloggers – something make me think that reading “happy” bloggers is even more contagious! 🙂