- A person’s happiness is related to the happiness of their friends, their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends—that is, to people well beyond their social horizon.
- We found that happy people tend to be located in the center of their social networks and to be located in large clusters of other happy people.
- And we found that each additional happy friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about 9%. For comparison, having an extra $5,000 in income (in 1984 dollars) increased the probability of being happy by about 2%.
- We found that social networks have clusters of happy and unhappy people within them that reach out to three degrees of separation.
- Happiness, in short, is not merely a function of personal experience, but also is a property of groups. Emotions are a collective phenomenon.
- The statistical models suggest that clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness and not just a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals. So, we really can have a significant impact on the happiness of our friends and family, not just by giving them friendship, but simply by being happy ourselves.
- Network characteristics independently predict which individuals will be happy years into the future.
- Although happy people tended to be within a larger network of happier people, I couldn’t find anything specific about whether a happy individual attracts a larger, happier network, or whether the network itself makes an individual happier. I wondered about this particularly because my own experience is that my networks make me happy…
This research project reminded me very much of another longitudinal study which looked at resilience over a 30 year year period (1955-1985) on Kauai, and island of Hawaii. This study had been very important to my own recent studies, and their conclusions shared some characteristics of this latest report. They found that individuals with many strong and diverse social ties where more likely to overcome adversity. Social ties were considered one of the most significant ‘protective factors’.