By On December 9th, 2008

A happy friend or family member living in close proximity can increase one’s own happiness significantly

According to the Framingham Heart study, published online in BMJ, a happy friend or family member living in close proximity can increase one’s own happiness significantly. Conversely, however, associations with person’s who were sad had much less of an impact. According to the study, having a happy friend or family member less than one mile away increases the likelihood of happiness by 25%. Additionally, a happy next door neighbor increases the likelihood of happiness by 34%. Lastly, having a happy spouse increased the likelihood of happiness by 8%. The study found that happiness extended not only to a happy person’s friend or family member, but also to the happy friend’s friend. The Framingham study included data from 4,739 participants from 1983 to 2003. According to Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., of Harvard, and James H. Fowler, Ph.D., of the University of California San Diego, the clusters of people who were happy or unhappy reflected in the Framingham network were “significantly larger than expected by chance.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the study more:

Happy people had a perfect score (12) on all four measures — a 3 awarded for those who answered positively most or all of the time, down to a score of zero for those who said they rarely or never experienced the “happy” characteristics.

Not only does happiness seem catching, those with acne in adolescence also keep close company with others who have the skin condition, according to another study of the effects of social networks, also published online in BMJ. So do those who have headaches or have similar heights.

This second social network study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to “detect implausible social network effects in acne, height, and headaches.”

Ethan Cohen-Cole, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, teamed with Jason M. Fletcher, Ph.D., M.S., of the Yale School of Public Health, to analyze the teen data and found on first blush a correlation with acne, headaches, and height.

The authors analyzed data from 4,300 to 5,400 male and female participants in the health survey. All had at least one friend who was also a survey participant and both were longitudinally surveyed. They used data collected in the 1994-95, 1995-96, and 2000-1 surveys.

But when the adolescent data were adjusted for environmental confounders they became uniformly smaller.

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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