The Law Office of Bruce C. Bridgman Articles Social Contagion: Can You Be Infected By A Friend’s Divorce?

Social Contagion: Can You Be Infected By A Friend’s Divorce?

By Law Office of Bruce C. Bridgman, Esq.  Sep. 19, 2012 11:02a

Researchers Believe Divorce Can Spread Like A Virus

In a recent study conducted by sociologists at several major institutions, including with The University of California in San Diego, scientists discovered evidence that one couple undergoing a divorce can "infect" the couples in their social group, following a pattern not unlike that of viral epidemics. The research is part of a larger group of studies investigating a new theory by sociologists, which they call "social contagion."

"We think of a regular contagion like the flu. You get a virus and you're more likely to spread the symptoms to someone else," explains a researcher with UC San Diego at the forefront of the study. "This is not just true for a virus. This is true for a lot of social behaviors."

The research relies on information about divorces compiled over the past fifty years, looking for patterns in the data that might prove or disprove the theory. Researchers found that in communities where one couple underwent a divorce, there was a sudden ripple effect that spread throughout the social group, making others close to the initial couple more likely to undergo a divorce themselves.

Multiple Possibilities Could Explain Phenomenon, Scientists Say

According to the study, close friends of a couple going through a divorce became 147 percent more likely to eventually separate from their own spouse. Family members were also hit by the effect, with siblings seeing a 22 percent increased chance of being divorced. Even co-workers experienced the effect, with fellow employees of a divorcee becoming 55 percent more likely to divorce.

All this data, researchers claimed in the study, has several possible explanations. One theory posits that increased stress derived from watching someone close to you can harm your marriage, creating the ripple effect. Other scientists believe that witnessing the dissolution of a marriage can cause spouses to question their own partnership, inflaming conflict where it might otherwise be ignored. In addition, several researchers believe that there is a strong social taboo against divorce, preventing most couples from even considering the possibility, at least until they see someone else go through it.

All the researchers agree that divorce is a rising trend in America, with couples being far more likely to separate than those of previous decades. The study cited numbers indicating that roughly half of all marriages will eventually end in divorce.

A Divorce Attorney Is On Your Side

If you are experiencing irreconcilable differences with your spouse, or merely wish to learn more about your legal options, do not hesitate to contact an experienced family law attorney with Eagle Law Firm today! Bruce C. Bridgman and associates are dedicated to providing you with compassionate representation for all your family law needs. We understand how difficult the process of separation is, and our firm is here to guide you through it as easily as possible. Visit our website to learn more before it is too late!

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