Emotional support in marriage

The emotional support spouses provide has numerous biological and psychological benefits. Being near a familiar person — even an acquaintance, let alone a spouse — can have effects as diverse as lowering heart rate, improving immune function, and reducing depression. They guess that men die after being widowed sooner than women because men get emotional […]

We compare to find our worth

People assess how well they are doing not so much by how much money they make or how much stuff they consume but, rather, by how much they make and consume compared to other people they know.

We think we have power to make decisions

Because we are so sure of our individual power to make decisions, we lose sight of the extraordinary degree to which our choice of a partner is determined by our surroundings and, in particular, by our social network.

Happiness set point

…each of us tends to stay put in a particular long-term disposition; we appear to have a set point for personal happiness that is not easy to change. In fact, like other personality traits, personal happiness appears to be strongly influenced by our genes.

Emotions lack specificity

What emotions lack in specificity compared to oral language, they make up for in speed. You can tell whether your spouse is mad at you very quickly, but having her explain it to you may take a good deal more time. no I don’t love the assumption that your female spouse is hiding her anger […]

Three Degrees of Influence

Our own research has shown that the spread of influence in social networks obeys what we call the Three Degrees or Influence Rule. Everything we do or say tends to ripple through our network, having an impact on our friends (one degree), our friends’ friends (two degrees), and even our friends’ friends’ friends (three degrees). […]

Networks contain specific connections

While a network, like a group, is a collection of people, it includes something more: a specific set of connections between people in the group. These ties, and the particular pattern of these ties, are often more important than the individual people themselves. They allow groups to do things that a disconnected collection of individuals […]

Murder can spread

It can spread either in a directed fashion (retaliating against the perpetrators) or in a generalized fashion (harming nondisputants nearby). Either way, however, a single murder can set off a cascade of killings. Acts of aggression typically diffuse outward from a starting point — like a bar fight when one man swings at another who […]