Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kick Unhappy Friends to the Curb

Also, the people at the center of social networks are happier.

UC San Diego and Harvard Medical School are publishing research in the British Medical Journal discussing happiness spreading through social networks. No, they're not involving sites like myspace, linkedin, or facebook because they're analyzing data collected from 1983 to 2003. Still, they tracked almost 5,000 people and their moods, determining that happy people keep happy friends, and an increased number of social contacts was associated with happier people.

Mind you, this is all self-reporting using statements like "I feel hopeful about the future" and "I felt that I was just as good as other people," so it's kind of cute that they're appling percentages to the amount of happiness that's being spread around, but I guess that's how science works.

The good news? Happiness is supposed to spread. The study cites a 15% increase in happiness if directly connected to a happy person, a 10% increase if connected to the friend of a happy person, and 6% if it's one step further out than that.

The bad news is that while having a happy friend gives you a 9% greater chance of being happy yourself, having an unhappy friend makes you 7% less likely to be happy.

So, what does this study mean for you? Is it important for you to keep up a good front, to seem happy so you keep your friends happy? Or is it time to trim the dead wood and get rid of unhappy friends who are dragging you down, while you go out to look for some happier people?

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
ss_blog_claim=59c833aa066112eeabade1b22648d49b ss_blog_claim=59c833aa066112eeabade1b22648d49b