Divorce is Contagious

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, May 5, 2014.

A Brown University study shows that the divorceof a friend can increase your own chances of getting divorced. Facebook keeps you in touch, but also brings people’s problems to you, and could be impacting divorce rates. Should you start planning for your divorce if your friend just filed?

The Brown University study, conducted in Framingham, MA, found that:

75% of participants were more likely to get divorced if a friend was divorced,

55% were more likely to get a divorce than someone who works with all married coworkers,

33% were more likely to end their marriage even if a friend of a friend got divorced.

22% of participants were more likely to divorce if they had a divorced sibling.

So, with divorce rates inching up recently, is there a virus floating around? Not really. Divorce dissolves your social ties. The Brown University study suggests that divorce is a “social contagion” – the spread of information, attitudes and behaviors through friends, family and social networks. In that regard, Facebook and Twitter are carriers!

“The key is that the effects are not so much geographical, but that you are emotionally or psychologically close to someone who gets divorced.”

I’ve written about some other facts about rising divorce rates before. The Brown University study though, had some other interesting results:

– Popular people are less likely to get divorced;

– Divorcées have denser social networks, and are much more likely to remarry other divorcées;

– The presence of children does not influence the likelihood of divorce;

– Each child reduces the susceptibility to being influenced by peers who get divorced.

– Attending to the health of a friend’s marriages supports your own.

Divorce itself is not contagious, but emotions can be. An abstract of the study can be found here.