Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. Articles Divorce Shows Ripple Effect Amongst Social Groups

Divorce Shows Ripple Effect Amongst Social Groups

By Wisselman, Harounian, & Associates  Oct. 24, 2011 9:00a

UC San Diego Study Indicates Divorce Acts Like Social Contagion

Your divorce can have unintended consequences on the marriages of your social circle, a new study seems to show.

In the aftermath of one couple's divorce, the new study finds, there is a 'ripple effect', as close friends as well as acquaintances, family members, and even co-workers find themselves at higher risk of divorce. This spreading of divorce, starting with one couple and expanding outwards, forming what the study refers to as 'clusters', mirrors the pattern displayed by another common life-form: viruses.

"We think of a regular contagion like the flu," says James Fowler, co-author of the study. "You get a virus and you're more likely to spread the symptoms to someone else. This is not just true for a virus. This is true for a lot of social behaviors."

Fowler pioneered research into what he calls 'social contagions', beginning years ago by examining the spread of alcoholism and obesity amongst peer groups. Now, his attention has turned to divorce, which he claims follows the same pattern.

Social Groups Get Infected by Idea of Divorce

It all begins, Fowler claims, with one couple deciding to flout social convention and pursue divorce, despite the stigma against it. In medical terms, this first carrier can sometimes be called the 'zero node'.

From the zero node, the idea of divorce then spreads to close friends and others in contact with the initial couple. Marriages that seemed strong suddenly start to show cracks, as partners find themselves seriously examining the possibility of divorce where they never would have previously.

This phenomenon is represented by solid numbers in the study. Fowler's data indicates that close friends of a recently divorced couple are 147 percent more likely to get divorced as well. Co-workers also feel the effects, showing a 55 percent increased likelihood of divorce.

There is hope in the numbers, however. Fowler argues that his study shows the importance of interpersonal relationships.

"If you want to make a positive change in your own life, you have to get your friends and family involved. If you want to lose weight, you have to get your friends to lose weight. If you want to have a healthy marriage, you have to get your friends to have healthy marriages," Fowler says. "We're really all in this together."

A Family Law Attorney from Long Island Can Help

If you are facing a divorce, you do not have to go it alone! Help is here at Wisselman, Harounian, & Associates, where we place the needs of our clients first. As one of New York's largest family law firms, our team of dedicated divorce lawyers is ready to represent your interests with compassion and skill. With a  Long Island family law attorney at your side, you can pursue the best outcome possible for you and your family.

To discuss your legal options today, contact a Long Island divorce attorney from Wisselman, Harounian & Associates free of charge!

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