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Is Divorce Contagious? (VIDEO)

First Posted: 06/28/10 02:24 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:55 PM ET

Divorce

"Breaking up is hard to do, unless everyone else is doing it too," say three social scientists in a new working paper.

In the paper (hat tip to the New York Times blog Freakonomics), Rose McDermott, Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler argue that divorce can spread through circles of friends because social networks tend to influence a person's romantic and sexual practices.

Using a 32-year sample, the study finds that "a person is 75 percent more likely to be divorced if a person that they are directly connected to is divorced."

The authors conclude:

"Divorce appears to spread through social networks, and, in turn, exerts effects on the structure of the network itself, changing its character. In so doing, we suggest that attending to the health of one's friends' marriages serves to support and enhance the durability of one's own relationship."

Good Morning America ran a recent segment on the piece. Check out the video below:



Read the study here:



social_network_effects_on_divorce

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Filed by Nate C. Hindman  |