Is Happiness Viral?

Posted by 8 December, 2008


We know videos can go viral. Other people can catch a sickness or a cold from you. Recent research by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler found that happiness can be viral too. Above is a picture of a social network of people. The circles represent females, the squares represent males and the lines between them indicate relationships. Colors of the circles or squares show the average happiness of a person and all of his or her social relations. The lighter the square or circle, the happier the person. Here is a link to the NY Times picture. Ewen Callaway at New Scientist has a graph shown following this link that nicely displays how a happy friend, coworker, or spouse would affect your happiness. The graph also displays how the distance you live with a friend will affect your happiness. As one might expect, a happy friend that lives closer is much more likely to make you happy.  In fact, a friend with three degrees of separation can increase your happiness by 6%!

It’s truly amazing what friends can do for you or friends or friends of friends in some cases! In fact, James Fowler, a professor at UC San Diego states that “Even people we don’t know and have never met have bigger effect on our mood than substantial increases in income.”

Below is a video provided by CNN that gives illustrates the point that happiness is indeed viral.

Photo courtesy of James Fowler/ UCSD and the NY Times
Other Posts:

What Determines Happiness?
Bad Medicine is What You Need
5 Ways to Soften the Financial Impact of the Holidays
10 Reasons Why I Want You to Be Financially Independent

External Resources:

Friends Quit Smoking? You Probably Will Too by MSN
James Fowler Home Page
Your Happiness Could Be Contagious by MSN
Find Yourself Packing It On? Blame Friends by NY Times
Viral Happiness


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December 8, 2008

interesting article… it leaves me… happy 🙂

Posted by Brian
December 9, 2008

We wrote about that study ourselves a few days ago since we also believe that money is a means to a different end. Feeling good about ourselves and our lives is the ultimate goal for us. Money gets in the way of this goal sometimes, which is why it has to be managed well. We got one very funny comment.

Posted by vilkri
December 9, 2008

My name is Caren.

I find your site and the selection of resources there very interesting.
I have a good credit card website that contains much useful information for your readers. There’s a fine set of articles that reveal all pros and cons of credit cards, give tips how to avoid credit card debt and establish good credit with minimum efforts. During the current financial crisis this can’t but attract more visitors to your site.

If it agrees with your policy, I would like to place some links to my website at your site.

Please let me know if you are interested via email
Thank you for your time,

Posted by Caren
December 12, 2008

@ Brian – Thank you so much for the comment and I’m definitely glad to see it makes you happy 🙂

@ vilkri – I agree. Money does get in the way of goals, but it can also help motivate people even if temporarily.

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