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Contageous DivorceA common socially bantered statistic is that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. That number may not be as accurate as most studies say because depending on the age of the couple,  divorce rates range from 40-50%. It is close enough of an estimate though to be left alone by most would-be challengers. But what factors go into splits that may reside outside of that particular troubled relationship? Often times the first step can be the hardest to take. This is true for many things in life, but especially when co-dependency issues may arise in strained couples.

A recent study sheds light on the “contagiousness” of divorce. James Fowler of University of California, San Diego, Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University, and Rose McDermott of Brown University began studying divorce and social contagion in 2010 and what they found may be surprising, or old news, depending on your experience and, ironically, your surroundings.

He does, what she does, what he does

“Follow the Leader” syndrome has reared its head in many facets of human history; political and religious leaders’ rise and fall has been a common thread sewn throughout our past. But in divorce, do couples copy decisions of other couples? Or can it be construed as the necessary push to facilitate change? The researchers in the study found that couples who have close friends who break-up or divorce are 75% more likely to follow suit. An even greater revelation is that people with numerous divorced couples in their circle of friends are 147% more likely to divorce than if the people had a cluster of friends who were all still married.

A term coined throughout the study was “divorce clustering.” Certainly these statistics give a glimpse into our joint psychological make-up and how our surrounding friends and family can influence our resolve to make certain decisions. Results from the study also showed that people with divorced siblings were 22% more likely to divorce. The “contagiousness” even spread to co-workers where the divorce rate was 55% among small companies.

Family, Friends, and Influences

The study, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Unless Everyone Else is Doing it Too: Social Network Effects on Divorce in a Longitudinal Sample Followed for 32 Years, takes in many factors. While it doesn’t give a concrete method to help avoid bad relationships, it opens up ideas about our clustered behavior pertaining to relationships in society. Other general findings in the study said that more popular people are less likely to get divorced. The study also opened up other questions of “clustering” behaviors, some of which can already been related to in the day to day life. “Marriage clustering” may not have an official title, but it is a common feeling among siblings and close friends when they see each other marry to feel the pressure to also tie the knot. The researchers’ final general conclusion about the social nature of divorce was that “divorce should be understood as a collective phenomenon that extends far beyond those directly affected.”

Divorce, no matter our moral objectives, is a social staple in our society. It’s curious that in many situations couples have been known to put more thought and effort into breaking apart than they might have when initially coming together as a union. The findings in this study show that divorce is not just limited to certain aspects in the relationship in question but are linked to other people’s relationships and decisions around us. At MyDivorcePapers we understand that throughout the divorce process and decision, people need advice and answers to their questions. Whether it is state specific divorce laws or searching for divorce papers, MyDivorcePapers has the resources to help establish the basics when it comes to taking the crucial step to better your future.

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