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Is divorce contagious?

When fellow family members or coworkers suddenly develop cold symptoms, most people will start washing their hands and taking other precautions to avoid contracting the virus. However, there is another thing that researchers from Brown University are saying we should be careful of. Researchers who conducted a study on divorce statistics claim that divorce might also be contagious.

University researchers are saying that if a loved one or friend has gone through a marital split, then it increased the chances of going through one yourself. Allegedly, a full 75 percent of individuals who participated in the study showed a higher likelihood of getting a divorce in the event that their friend had just been through one. Thirty-three percent showed a higher likelihood of getting a divorce in the event that a friend of one of their friends was divorced.

In this respect, researchers say that divorce could be viewed as a social contagion. In other words, the spread of attitudes, behaviors and information among family, friends and other social groups can lead to similar behavior among members of those groups. According to one of the researchers from the study, she does not believe that divorce itself is actually contagious like a virus. Rather, she claims that emotions and sentiments can be transferred from one person to another, and this could cause a person to get a divorce if his or her friend has.

In the end, the decision to go through divorce proceedings is an exceedingly personal one, and some individuals' personal decisions are more influenced by their friends and family than others are. Divorce is a difficult experience no matter how the decision is made -- emotionally and with regard to questions about child custody, marital property division and other issues.

The process can be made less stressful through proper planning and with an attitude of reconciliation as opposed to an argumentative and aggressive stance. While it is not possible in all cases to make the divorce process peaceful, if it can be done, it will definitely make the experience less painful for all parties involved.

Source: CBS New York, "New Study Says Divorce Can Be Contagious" No author given, Apr. 30, 2014

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