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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Viral happiness

Instead of misery, happiness loves company, according to a new study. Documenting "how happiness spreads through social networks," NPR reports, researchers at Harvard and University of California, San Diego, have "found that when a person becomes happy, a friend living close by has a 25% higher chance of becoming happy themselves. A spouse experiences an 8% increased chance and for next-door neighbors, it's 34%." Obviously the study, published in BMJ, a British medical journal, wasn't about online social networking per se, but physical proximity doesn't have to be a factor. "When one person becomes happy, the social network effect can spread up to 3 degrees - reaching friends of friends." What that means, according to one of the study's authors, cited in the New York Times, is that "if your friend’s friend’s friend becomes happy, that has a bigger impact on you being happy than putting an extra $5,000 in your pocket." It's a good time to know that! A health blogger at US News & World Report speculates about what can happen with the online version of social networking.

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