You can catch your friend’s mood, but not depression – Futurity

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New research suggests we can “pick up” good and bad moods from friends, but not depression.

The findings, published the journal Royal Society Open Science, imply that mood does spread over friendship networks, as do various different symptoms of depression such as helplessness and loss of interest. However the effect from lower or worse mood friends was not strong enough to push the other friends into depression.

The researchers examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which incorporates the moods and friendship networks of US adolescents in schools.

Using mathematical modeling, they found that having more friends who suffer worse moods is associated with a higher probability of an individual experiencing low moods and a decreased probability of improving. They found the opposite applied to adolescents who had a more positive social circle.

“We investigated whether there is evidence for the individual components of mood (such as appetite, tiredness, and sleep) spreading through US adolescent friendship networks while adjusting for confounding by modeling the transition probabilities of changing mood state over time,” says public health statistics researcher Rob Eyre of the University of Warwick, who led the study.

“Evidence suggests mood may spread from person to person via a process known as social contagion.

Interesting, I have observed this phenomenon but could not put a name to it.

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