John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago who has written a book called "Loneliness," teamed up with two other researchers to study the effect of loneliness in social networks. They used data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed thousands of people in Framingham, Massachusetts, since 1948. This time researchers looked at loneliness in the second generation in the study (e.g., 5,124 people. Loneliness is not necesarily based on the people right around you.
Study results showed that if a direct connection in your social network is lonely, you are 52 percent more likely to be lonely. At two degrees of separation (a friend of a friend) it's 25 percent. At three degrees of separation (someone who knows your friend's friend) it's 15 percent.
The results have been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. They were also mentioned in "Connected," a book written 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 other behaviors (as well as habits)are contagious among groups of people who know one another. It may be important to hang out with smart, happy, healthy, functional people . . .