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Think Tank

Everybody's Doing It: Why Divorce Could Be Contagious

"Divorce should be understood as a collective phenomenon that extends beyond those directly affected." 

So concludes a new study that argues divorce can function like a contagion that can "spread through a social network like a rumor, affecting friends up to two degrees removed." If a friend is divorced, study participants were 75 percent more likely to become divorced as well. Twice removed "friends of friends" were 33 percent more likely to divorce.

The good news, however, is that lasting relationships are also contagious, and "attending to the health of one’s friends’ marriages," write the authors of the paper - which includes Big Think expert Nicholas Christakis - may serve to support and enhance the durability of one’s own relationship."

In the video below, Christakis, a sociologist at Harvard, argues that when people are free to choose anything they want, they usually choose what their friends have chosen. Mimicry is a fundamental part of human experience. Here's why.

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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