New research suggests loneliness can actually travel from person to
person, spreading up to three degrees of separation. That means if your
neighbor's cousin's friend is lonely, you may have a good chance of
being lonely, too.
The results, published in the Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, were also mentioned in the recent book "Connected" by Dr.
Nicholas Christakis at Harvard University and James Fowler at the
University of California, San Diego. The book explores how happiness,
obesity, smoking and a slew of other behaviors and habits are
contagious among groups of people who know one another.
這個結果已經發表在 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 而且也在 "Connected" 這本由 Harvard University 的Dr. Nicholas Christakis 以及 University of California, San Diego 的 James Fowler 所著的書出現。
John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago who has written a book called "Loneliness," teamed up with Christakis and Fowler to study the effect of this phenomenon in social networks.
University of Chicago 的一位心理學家 John Cacioppo 也和 Christakis 及 Fowler 合著了一本 "Loneliness" 研究在人際網路中，這樣的情緒、行為、習慣，會有怎麼樣的效果。
The authors focused on data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed thousands of people in Framingham, Massachusetts, since 1948. The loneliness research looked at the second generation in the study, which includes 5,124 people.
他們對於 Framingham 心理實驗特別感興趣，這是一個從1948開始在 Framingham, Massachusetts
In the heart study, researchers kept in touch with participants every two to four years, asking them about depression, loneliness and other issues. They also kept a record of their friends. This allowed Christakis, Fowler and Cacioppo to look at the subjects' social networks over time.
在這個心理實驗中，每二到四年研究人員就會跟受試者聯繫，聊聊沮喪、寂寞等這類的議題。他們也有對受試者周遭的朋友進行紀錄。這使得 Christakis, Fowler 還有 Cacioppo 可以有一段長期的人際關係及心理狀況可以研究。（這句也好難翻＝ ＝）
If a direct connection in your social network is lonely, you are 52 percent more likely to be lonely, the researchers found. At two degrees of separation -- a friend of a friend -- it's 25 percent. At three degrees, someone who knows your friend's friend, it's 15 percent.
By helping lonely people on the periphery of a social network, "We can create a protective barrier against loneliness that will keep the whole network from unraveling," Christakis and Fowler wrote in "Connected."
The results are surprising because "we think of loneliness as something that affects a person who is by himself or herself," Ed Diener, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in an e-mail. He was not involved in the study.
Christakis 還有 Fowler 在 "Connected" 這本書提到，藉由幫助處在人際網路邊緣的寂寞人群，「我們可以建構起一道牆，防止寂寞入侵到其它人身上」。這個結論很特別，Ed Diener這位在 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 的心理學教授，在一封電子郵件中說「通常來說，我們認為寂寞只是個人感覺。」。這位教授並沒有參與研究。
But it makes sense that the way a lonely person behaves could influence others, and those people could respond in kind to more friends, social scientists say.
社會學家覺得，一個人寂寞的時候，他的行為可能會影響到其他人，接著周圍的人又會慢慢的影響更多人，這是…well, it makes sense…（這…對…，好難翻）
"If lonely people act out behaviors that alienate others, some others will learn to enact those same behaviors, sometimes in reaction against the lonely person," Diener said.
Loneliness is defined as perceived social isolation, and it's not based on the number of people around you, Cacioppo said. Evolutionarily, it was important for early humans to know how many peers they could count on, work with and survive with, as well as who would betray them, he said.
"That's why the quality, not the quantity, of relationships is what's related to whether someone feels isolated or feels satisfied with their relationships," he said.
Cacioppo's earlier research says people have different baseline levels of loneliness, meaning some people have a greater need than others for social connection. From that perspective, it follows that someone who is highly sensitive to disconnection would more strongly promote lonely feelings in the network, he said.
Both lonely and nonlonely people prefer nonlonely people, and sometimes the lonely are even harsher to others who feel disconnected than the nonlonely people. This helps leave the lonely people with fewer friends, Cacioppo said.
In the social network study, mood did not affect how loneliness was transmitted, he said. Participants were asked how depressed they were, and this did not seem to affect whether they passed loneliness along the network.
The study also found that loneliness spreads much more easily among women than among men, citing the idea that women may be more likely to express and share emotions, as well as the observation that there may be greater stigma associated with loneliness among men. Happiness, by contrast, does not seem to have gender distinctions in the way it spreads, according to Christakis and Fowler's research.
由 Christakis 還有 Fowler 的研究中顯示，女性比男性更容易傳染寂寞，並推測，可能是女性比較傾向表達跟分享她們的情緒而造成，而且男性之間可能也比較避免談論這種事。（stigma...）快樂則不是這樣，性別沒有明顯差異。
People who are lonely may be motivated to seek social connection, increasing the likelihood that others around that person will be exposed to loneliness, the authors said.
Cacioppo , Christakis 及 Fowler 也說，寂寞的人也會努力促進人際關係，但又會增加把寂寞傳染給別人的可能性。（寂寞變成一種病了…）
Loneliness spreads more quickly among friends than family, but this finding may be limited to older people, as the average age in the sample was 64 years old, the authors said. Cacioppo, though, said the pattern generally makes sense because the cost of leaving a friendship is less than cutting off a family member, so people are more likely to isolate themselves from friends than close relatives or spouses.
作者們又說了，寂寞在朋友間傳遞的比較快，在家族內比較慢。不過可能是受限於年紀關係，受試者的長輩們平均是64歲。但 Cacioppo 提出，這樣的現象可能是因為，切斷朋友的關係比切斷親戚關係來的容易，所以人比較可能把自己孤立在朋友群中，對親戚或伴侶就比較親密。
Although these effects are stronger in person, they also have implications for online social interactions, he said.
"If you have an important friend and they are really grumpy and say nasty things on email, you may walk into the next room and be grumpy to someone else," he said.
The findings have implications for communities, Cacioppo said. City planners and policymakers should consider interventions such as sidewalks that allow neighborhood residents to interact more in public spaces, so that if someone is feeling down, others can help bring that person out of it.
In terms of therapy, it's important for lonely people to understand the condition and what it does to the brain, he said. Those who are lonely tend to view things as more threatening, and if they understand that, they can help themselves temper such strong reactions.
"We can correct our tendency to want to act grumpy to others," he said.
Diener said the research is important, building off of the "Connected" authors' earlier work on social networks.
"This series of studies shows us that we don't just live in individual worlds, but are influenced often in unconscious ways of which we are not aware," he said.
Cacioppo 又說：「我們可以減少對別人發脾氣的想法。」 Diener 認為這個研究有其重要性，且對 "Connected" 作者們在人際關係的早期研究給予讚同（build off?） Diener 說：「這一連串的實驗告訴我們，我們不是生活在個人的世界中，我們常常在不知不覺中影響別人，也常常被別人影響。」