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Social Networks Science

Happiness May Be Catching 176

Posted by kdawson
from the little-help-from-my-friends dept.
chrb writes "The NY Times Magazine has an interesting article about research, based on the long-running Framingham Heart Study, modeling real world social networks. It seems that tendencies to be happy, not to smoke, and not to become obese are passed between nodes in a directed graph in a way that suggests such concepts are 'contagious.' Well-connected nodes in the graph (i.e., people with more friends) are more likely to be happier than less-connected nodes, even when the edges represent more distant friendships. Individuals quitting smoking, or becoming obese, influence not only their immediately connected friends but also friends of friends, with the effect sometimes skipping the intermediary node. The contagion effect is most noticeable when a tendency is passed from one person to another of the same sex — friends of the opposite sex, including spouses, are not as influential."
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Happiness May Be Catching

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  • Duh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:36AM (#29437611)

    This is like that $8m study that found out men think differently than women.

  • by Swizec (978239) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:44AM (#29437639) Homepage
    Are you saying that if I have sex with my girlfriend's friend she'll have more sex with me? Seems like a fairly interesting notion.

    What if I have sex with a bunch of my girlfriend's friends, will that make my girlfriend's whole social circle all want to have sex with me at the same time? 'Cause I could totally live with that.
  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:49AM (#29437657)
    "Well-connected nodes in the graph (i.e., people with more friends) are more likely to be happier than less-connected nodes"

    So /. must be saddest place on earth.
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:50AM (#29437661)

    I told you. Stupidity is not only deadly but also contagious through any information transmission capable medium.

    That's why the extra terrestrial visitors fly so fast and with their radio turned off.

    They're playing chicken.

    "Did you hear? GX-3-ThBlarg just did a low fly at merely three fongs per chronocycle! And he turned the wave receivers on for FIVE SECONDS!"
    "No way! He'll end up idiotized, like his big brother. He must already be getting fatter and sad."

  • disease (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:53AM (#29437669)

    haha! I knew it was a disease!

  • by RuBLed (995686) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:55AM (#29437683)
    FTFS -

    "The contagion effect is most noticeable when a tendency is passed from one person to another of the same sex â" friends of the opposite sex, including spouses, are not as influential."

    Not that I am suggesting anything other than we are on Slashdot.

  • by delibes (303485) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:18AM (#29437771)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarantine_(Red_Dwarf) [wikipedia.org] for the unenlightened. Mr Flibble agrees with me, don't you Mr Flibble?
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:28AM (#29437805)

    I have a friend who just got out of a mental institution whom I have been worried about for quite some time, now that she is out in the real world and feels better I can honestly say that my days have improved a lot.

    As hollywood taught us, that story has only a discrete amount of possible endings:

    - Your friend will get into your house tonight and kill you. With an axe.
    - Your friend is actually you, as you'll discover waking up covered in dry red stains and possibly a dead animal next to you.
    - Your friend is now a vampire.

    Notice how all those plots can be intermingled seamlessly for the sequels; also, as hollywood taught us.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:15AM (#29438033)

    Are you saying that if I have sex with my girlfriend's friend she'll have more sex with me? Seems like a fairly interesting notion. What if I have sex with a bunch of my girlfriend's friends, will that make my girlfriend's whole social circle all want to have sex with me at the same time? 'Cause I could totally live with that.

    Don't forget that behaviour isn't the only thing that's contagious... :-)

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by azior (1302509) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:36AM (#29438143)
    monkey C, monkey sudo!
  • by darthflo (1095225) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:47AM (#29438613)

    Why is it obvious? At one time it was "obvious" that smokers were the cool socialites that everyone wanted to emulate.

    And how would one emulate a smoker? By smoking yourself, maybe? So you start smoking. You take smoke breaks whenever your role models take them and happily light a fag or two, taking good care of that nicotine addiction. Already, your smoke breaks will probably be somewhat social. There's going to be more smokers around, they're going to be smoking (just like you!) and every now and then they're going to be asking you for a light. Some talking might ensue, names be exchanged and friend requests be sent back and forth. Congratulations, the percentage of smokers among your friends is likely to increase.

    The great thing about smoking is it's addictingness. After all those breaks with your idols and perhaps a few new people, you'll probably run into a situation where you don't know any cool socialite in the vicinity. Doesn't matter, you'll still be taking a smoke break, it's not just about aspiring to the cool guys, it's also about getting that nicotine fix. Others will probably be in the same situation. Just like you, they'll be used to talking to others while smoking. Asking for a light or fag is a great conversation starter; and starting from your mutual love of processed tobacco, a conversation is easily started. Conversation leads to more smoke break leads to more conversations, leads to friend requests. And like that, two lonely smokers may find each other, get together, gift the world with a bunch of newborn (future) smokers. Shortly thereafter he dies of lung cancer, her next child is stillborn, pulling her into a deep depression during which she abuses her children. Finally, she takes her own life. Days later, her dead body and starved children are found by the landlord. While retrieving the bodies, the police accidentally rips open the wallpaper, freeing a large patch of old asbestos-containing isolation. The landlord proceeds to patch it all up with another layer of wallpaper, but having breathed asbestos nanoshrapnel for hours finishes his (due to smoking) already damaged lung off. He manages to call 911 and an ambulance is immediately dispatched. Unfortunately, on it's way to the landlord's apartment, the driver carelessy drops his cigarette. He looks down for a split second to localize the still glowing stub. While he's grabbing it, an unnamed Federal Agent Closely Resembling Jack Bauer sprints across the street in a vain attempt to stop the ticking countdown of a (novel, extremely deadly for the whole continental U.S., Hawaii and Alaska) bomb located a few blocks down. The ambulance slams into our facrjb, killing him on the spot (in a painful, slow way!). Only seconds thereafter, the countdown of the discussed explosive device hits 0:00:00. Smoking kills. But I seem to be digressing a tiny bit, so back to topic:

    Doing anything (e.g. being hapy, eating meat, smoking) makes you more likely to spend time with people of similar interest and less likely to spend time with diametrically opposed people (emos, vegans, non-smokers) because the former will approve of your actions, the latter condone them and people, being social animals, tend to favour approval over condemnation. Simple as that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:00AM (#29440373)

    Yup, a long-term study spends significant time and resources researching something to come to a conclusion. But with your keen perception and research skills, you have totally debunked it.

    Wow. They managed to figure out that people are social animals, like to have friends, and are influenced by the habits and opinions of their social group. Hell, maybe they will create a new name for such a grand discovery, maybe something along the lines of being socially "pressured" by their social equals, or "peers" if you will... I know, maybe we can call it "Peer-Pressure" or something like that.

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