In Virtue/Vice, Dr. Christine B. Whelan blogs about news, books, scientific and psychological research and her general musings about virtue and vice in our everyday lives.
Click this banner to see the entire series.
If Your Friends Drink a Lot, You Will, Too
One more to add to the series of social network studies out there: If your friends drink a lot, you will, too.
After a statistical analysis of social connections and alcohol consumption patterns, the researchers found that, like so many other things, drinking habits can be contagious: if a close connection (friend, relative, coworker) drank heavily-defined as an average of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men-participants were 50% more likely to drink heavily themselves; if someone connected by two degrees of separation (a friend of a friend) drank heavily, participants were 36% more likely to do so.
Clearly a group of social scientists are building a career on studying the effects of friends and family on our behavior. And it’s interesting stuff. But the results are the same every time. Is everything contagious? If so, does any of this research matter past what our parents (and numerous Biblical passages) always told us?
Pick your friends wisely. And for a rather basic (kind of silly) primer on how to do this, you need not search farther than eHow. Just don’t be drinkin’ while you’re searching.