11 Aug Happiness is catchy
When you’re smiling, the whole world really does smile with you.
A paper being published Friday in a British medical journal concludes that happiness is contagious – and that people pass on their good cheer even to total strangers.
American researchers who tracked more than 4,700 people in Framingham, Mass., as part of a 20-year heart study also found the transferred happiness is good for up to a year.
“Happiness is like a stampede,” said Nicholas Christakis, a professor in Harvard University’s sociology department and co-author of the study. “Whether you’re happy depends not just on your own actions and behaviors and thoughts, but on those of people you don’t even know.”
Christakis and co-author James Fowler, of the University of California in San Diego, are old hands at studying social networks. They previously found that obesity and smoking habits spread socially as well.
For this study, published in the British journal BMJ, they examined questionnaires that asked people to measure their happiness. They found distinct happy and unhappy clusters significantly bigger than would be expected by chance.
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