Happiness appears to be contagious, according to US researchers. In a longitudinal social network analysis observing over 4500 participants for 20 years, happiness was measured in each individual and in people in his or her social network. Analysis of the results showed that happy people tend to be connected to each other in happy clusters. Happiness was observed to spread across an array of social ties, including family relationships and friendships, with clustering occurring in groups of people separated by up to three degrees of separation (ie, friends of friends). Also, happier people tend to be in the centre of their local social networks, and these individuals are more likely to stay happy in the future, an effect that remained significant even when the researchers controlled for age and education. The authors comment that their research has relevance for public health, with the health and wellbeing of one person clearly affecting that of others.
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