Is Loneliness Contagious?

A study of the data from 5,000 individuals who participated in the Framingham Heart Study leads researchers to believe that loneliness spreads through social networks like a virus. The tendency to be a loner may be less of a character trait and more of a "state such as hunger".
They found loneliness is catchy with three degrees of separation. So a person's loneliness depended not just on his friend's loneliness but also on his friend's friend and his friend's friend's friend. Participants were 52 percent more likely to be lonely if a person to whom they were directly connected (one degree of separation) was lonely. For two degrees of separation, the number drops to 25 percent and 15 percent for three degrees.

The number of family members had no effect on loneliness scores.

Over time, lonely individuals become lonelier and transmit such feelings to others before severing ties. "People with few friends are more likely to become lonelier over time, which then makes it less likely that they will attract or try to form new social ties," they write. Such friendless individuals ended up on the outskirts of their social networks.

Link -via Digg

(image credit: Flickr user ~Oryctes~)

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I must be stupid, but what exactly are they saying? Are they saying that if I happen to become acquainted with a loner, he will "infect" me and turn me into a loner as well? If that is the case then that does sound highly suspicious.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Wow, this seems suspect. How did they test this? If someone posted on Facebook "I miss my mom, dad, etc." and then someone replied "I miss you too" or "Me too" that counts or something?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Is Loneliness Contagious?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More