Another Reason to Have a Dog?

June 9, 2009 at 3:21 am Leave a comment

As if we needed it…

Back in December, NPR reported that happiness is contagious.

A new study by researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego documents how happiness spreads through social networks.

They found that when a person becomes happy, a friend living close by has a 25 percent higher chance of becoming happy themselves. A spouse experiences an 8 percent increased chance and for next-door neighbors, it’s 34 percent.

When you consider how little it takes for a dog to be absolutely overcome with joy, it’s easy to see how dog ownership can make you happier.  And if you consider dog ownership within the context of the web of interconnected human and canine relationships we develop when we get a dog, the benefits become even more obvious.

We find that people at the center of the social network tend to be happier,” says co-author James Fowler, a political science professor at U.C. San Diego.

Imagine a birds-eye view of a party: “You may see some people in quiet corners talking one-on-one,” Fowler says. Others would be at the center of the room having conversations with lots of people. According to the study findings, those in the center would be among the happiest.

“We think the reason why is because those in the center are more susceptible to the waves of happiness that spread throughout the network,” Fowler explains.

Our dogs see us as the center of their world. If Fowler’s research is accurate, having a happy, well-adjusted dog – or better yet – a whole pack of them, should make us blissfully happy.

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Entry filed under: behavior science, dogs, pets.

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