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Can Your Friend’s Divorce be "Contagious"?

A story at CNN.com cites a recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego that the risk of divorce, or at least the emotions and behaviors associated with divorce, can be spread throughout social networks.

Your friends' decision to get divorced can have an impact on your risk of marriage, and vice versa, the study finds.  The same applies to family units.  According to the study, people who have a divorced sibling are 22% more likely to go through divorce themselves than the public at large, but the differences are more severe with friends.  Couples with divorced friends are 147% more likely to experience divorce compared to couples whose friends' marriages remain intact. 

Some possible reasons offered to explain these findings are that people sometimes warm up to the very idea of divorce when a friend confides in them regarding the details of their separation.  The idea of divorce then goes from something almost unthinkable to a real possibility to consider.  Another factor could be that seeing a friend or family member get divorced can give people, especially women, the courage to pursue the idea they had briefly considered but decided not to follow through.

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