Vitamin C won’t help you: Divorce might be contagious

Marriage is very much a social institution. For many people, it starts off as a big party, with guests traveling from all over to celebrate with the happy couple. As a young married couple matures and their children become a bigger part of their lives, they often end up spending time with other couples and their children — people who are in a similar spot in their own lives.

This can lead, naturally, to couples knowing other couples who split up. According to the prevailing logic, close to half of marriages these days end up in divorce. The question is, if people are around other couples who are going through a divorce, will it make them more likely to divorce themselves?

According to one story, the answer to that question is yes. Researchers looked at a medium-sized city in Massachusetts to evaluate what they refer to as social contagion — how a phenomenon such as divorce might seem to spread. Their findings showed that couples who had friends in their closest social circles who were divorcing were 75 percent more likely to break up than people who didn’t have close friends who experienced divorce.

Taking it out one level, friends of friends who got divorced were about one-third more likely to split up as well. Beyond that, researchers couldn’t find much of a correlation.

This isn’t to say that married people shouldn’t associate with friends who are divorcing or who are divorced. However, it can serve as food for thought for people who might be in a demographic that might be more prone to divorce anyway.

Source: KMBZ, “Divorce Can Be Contagious, Study Finds,” May 7, 2014

Ratings and Reviews