Navigation Links
Being Happy Affects Even Those You Don't Know
Date:12/4/2008

Innovative research tracking people over a 20-year period suggests your smile goes farther than you think

THURSDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Happy friends can make you happy -- and so can happy friends of your friends.

That's the unusual conclusion of a new study that suggests you and people you've never met can have an impact on each other's feelings.

"Our own personal happiness spreads beyond people we're directly connected to," said study co-author James Fowler, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego.

Researchers already know that a person's attitudes affect those of other people, Fowler said. "If I smile, it increases the chances that you'll smile. We know that waiters and waitresses who smile get better tips," he added.

But what about other people further down the line? As Fowler put it, "Is there a person-to-person effect that can spread to the whole social network?"

The new study, one in a series examining the potential contagiousness of things like loneliness and smoking, aimed to answer that question.

Fowler and Harvard Medical School professor Nicholas Christakis looked at findings from the Framingham Heart Study, which began following 5,209 people in Framingham, Mass., in 1948. The study continues to this day and now includes descendents of those in the original group.

The researchers focused on 4,739 children of the original participants and tracked their friendship ties with other people for 20 years, from 1983 to 2003.

The scientists found that a person's happiness is most likely to boost the happiness levels in people closest to him -- spouses, relatives, neighbors, and friends.

But, if one person is happy, that increases the chances of happiness in a friend living within a mile by 25 percent. The "cascade" effect, as the researchers put it, continues: a friend of the friend has almost a 10 percent higher likelihood of being happy, and a friend of that friend has a 5.6 percent increased chance.

In the other words, one person's happiness can spread outward through three degrees of separation. Those at the center of such circles may be people that "you have never met. But their mood can have a profound effect on your own mood," Fowler said.

The researchers tried to adjust their statistics to account for factors that could possibly affect the trends, such as people being more likely to choose friends who are like them.

The findings were published online Dec. 5 in the British Medical Journal.

Fowler said the study has "totally changed the way I see the world."

"To think about the way we're connected to one another has caused me to take more responsibility for my own actions," he said. "If I head home in a happy mood, I'm not just making my son happy, I'm potentially making my son's friend happy. I'm not just making my wife happy, I'm making my wife's mother happy."

Rosemary Blieszner, a professor of human development at Virginia Tech, called the study findings impressive, because they relied on a large sample of participants who were followed for a long period of time.

Overall, the study reveals the importance of the company people keep, Blieszner said.

"People who are surrounded by many happy people are more likely to be happy in the future than those who are surrounded by unhappy people," she said.

More information

To learn more about happiness, check with the Pew Research Center.



SOURCES: James Fowler, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, University of California, San Diego; Rosemary Blieszner, Ph.D., professor of human development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.; Dec. 5, 2008, online British Medical Journal


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. As Consumers Put a Leash on Spending, Experts Caution Against Being Penny Wise and Pound Foolish with Their Pets
2. NCPA Statement on Tom Daschle Being Selected to Be Secretary of Health and Human Services Department
3. Former Smoker Celebrates One Year Anniversary of Being a Non-Smoker 60 Pounds Lighter
4. Eastern Wisconsin Residents Demonstrate Their Commitment to Being Good Neighbors
5. Experts at American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Satellite Symposium Reach Consensus: Better Intimacy = Better Overall Well-Being
6. Ill Be Home (Alone) for Christmas: How to Make the Best Out of Being Alone for the Holidays
7. Rittenhouse Womens Wellness Center: Internal Medicine plus Nutrition, Fitness, Emotional Well-Being and Skin Care
8. Study shows testosterone improves sexual well-being in post-menopausal women
9. New Jersey Author Uncovers the Secret to Well-Being Is the Connection Between Health and Emotions
10. BEING DAD DVD Offers a Sneak Peek at Pregnancy From a Guys Point of View
11. Enjoy Life Foods Teams with AllergyMoms.com to Ensure Halloween Isn't 'Tricky' for Food-Allergic Kids and Families : Provides tips for being allergy-aware this Halloween
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... N.J. (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... Quality ... sources, yet in many ways they remain in the eye of the beholder, according ... (EBO), a publication of The American Journal of Managed Care. For the full issue, ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Orion, Clarkston, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 26, ... ... with respect to fertility once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women ... intercourse but they also require a comprehensive approach that can help for preservation ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room , the largest network of ... Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. , “We are pleased to ... said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of First Choice Emergency Room. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent article published ... unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state that individuals are now more comfortable ... less common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area medical ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Global law firm Greenberg ... Legal Elite. The attorneys chosen by their peers for this recognition are considered among ... Greenberg Traurig Shareholders received special honors as members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Research and ... Market for Companion Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... for Companion Diagnostics The World Market for ... personalized medicine diagnostics. Market analysis in the report includes the ... Market (In Vitro Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016   Pulmatrix, Inc ., (NASDAQ: ... drugs, announced today that it was added to the ... its comprehensive set of U.S. and global equity indexes ... important milestone for Pulmatrix," said Chief Executive Officer ... our progress in developing drugs for crucial unmet medical ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Arkis BioSciences, ... less invasive and more durable cerebrospinal fluid treatments, ... funding.  The Series-A funding is led by Innova ... Fund, and other private investors.  Arkis, new financing ... instrumentation and the market release of its in-licensed ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: