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Happiness Is Contagious

Social Networks Affect Mood, Study Shows

Happy Friends Make You Happy continued...

Fowler says the findings do not mean you should avoid unhappy people, but that you should make an effort whenever you can to spread happiness.

"We need to think of happiness as a collective phenomenon," he says. "If I come home in a bad mood, I may be missing an opportunity to make not just my wife and son happy, but their friends."

Richard Suzman, PhD, who directs the behavioral and social research division of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the study, calls the research "pioneering."

"These findings are very strong," Suzman tells WebMD. "From a public policy perspective, this research means we need to consider the societal impact on happiness, or obesity, or smoking. We are only just beginning to understand how social networks influence these things for good or for bad."

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