Monkey See, Monkey Do: The Effect of Social Networks on Divorce

A new study presents facts that seem to underpin the idea that a couple splitting up can influence their close friends toward divorce. 

The new study looked at data from the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term longitudinal study that follows more than 5,000 residents of Framingham, Massachusetts. To examine factors of cardiovascular health, the original study group has been followed since 1948. Many spouses and children of the original cohort are enrolled in the study, providing substantial data for researchers studying the effects of social networks. 

Findings of the study include:

  • The divorce of a close friend, or a friend once removed, significantly increases the possibility of divorce.
  • (In what seems a logical point for this day and age) divorcees are more likely to marry divorcees.
  • People with more friends in their social network are less likely to be divorced, possibly due to supportive friends who help them through the difficult times of any marriage.
  • Divorcees often become less popular when the social network of a couple divides.
  • Children did not prove a factor in divorce, and in fact, the presence of one or more children reduced vulnerability to divorce in a social network. 

Because of the homogeneity of the background of participants in the study, the results cannot be considered applicable throughout the United States. For everyone, though, the study does make an important comment that “Divorce should be understood as a collective phenomenon that extends beyond those directly affected.”

If you’re considering divorce, get the legal support you need from an experienced family law attorney in New York.

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