Campus & Community

Is Happiness Catching?

1 min read

The New York Times

Nicholas Christakis began taking a new look at this question in 2000 after an experience visiting terminally ill patients in the working-class neighborhoods of Chicago. Christakis is a medical doctor and sociologist at Harvard; back then, he was posted at the University of Chicago and, at the age of 38, he had made a name for himself studying the “widowhood effect,” the well-known propensity of spouses to die soon after their partners’ deaths…

In 2002, a common friend introduced him to James Fowler, at the time a Harvard political-science graduate student. Fowler was researching the question of whether the decision to vote in elections could spread virally from one person to another. Christakis and Fowler agreed that social contagion was an important area of inquiry and decided the only way to settle the many unanswered questions surrounding it was to find or compile a huge data set, one that tracked thousands of people….

Read full story