Social Networks’ Sway May Be Underestimated
Research suggests that traditional social networks play a significant role in influencing how people behave. An earlier study showed that obesity appeared to spread through social networks, and in a follow up study, similar findings were made about quitting the habit of smoking.
In studying the records of Framingham Heart Study participants, researchers found that the decision to quit smoking was highly influenced by whether or not someone close to that person stopped. A person whose spouse quit was 67% more likely to stop; if a friend stopped smoking, a person was 36% more likely to do so; and if a sibling quit, the person was 25% more likely to stop.
People tend to change their behavior in droves, roughly at the same time, likely due to the shift in social norms within each group. In addition, this study observed that smokers who did not quit smoking ended up with fewer and fewer social connections, ending up on the outside of their previous social circle.