According to a twenty-year longitudinal study of over 4000 individuals, happiness is indeed contagious. Dr. Nicholas Christakis, professor at Harvard University, compared the spread of happiness to a “ripple effect” that could affect others up to three degrees of separation away; a friend of a friend of a friend, so to speak. The study did not actually determine the mechanisms of how happiness could be spread, but there were several hypotheses presented from happy people sharing their good fortune to simply exhibiting genuinely contagious emotions. Friends, spouses, live-in partners, roommates, siblings, and neighbors; all of these people would have an effect on their social circles’ happiness.
In a way it is ironic, how many researchers, psychology students, and cognitive neuroscientists worldwide will remember Mr. Henry G. Molaison and he did not remember a single person he met after his brain surgery, circa 1953. Henry G. Molaison, formerly known to all as simply HM was one of the most widely studied patients in the field of cognitive neuropsychology for over fifty years. His participation in several studies provided significant contributions to the understanding of brain function and memory. HM passed away on December 3, 2008 in Hartford, Connecticut.
If you were starting a business, you’d hope to acquire as much capital as you could: property, relevant tools, employees, and so on. As individuals, we strive to improve our human capital, or our economic value. We earn college degrees, take continuing education courses, attempt to expand our knowledge and master our respective fields. The more we know, the more we’re worth and it makes perfect sense (and boosts our pay!). Yet, perhaps more attention should be paid to the value of social capital.
Countless studies have focused on the subject of bullying, and the latest even suggest an interesting paradox: is bullying caused by a lack of empathy for others or, surprisingly, by too much empathy? Because, although all of us react in some way to seeing others in pain, we don’t all react in the same way. Scientists are asking, could an empathic response to others in pain cause enough emotional distress in some adolescents to actually cause them to respond aggressively? Here lie the two big hypotheses and they’re rather contradictory.