Bad Habits: It's Who You Know

Study says social networks strongly influence behavior
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2008 4:48 PM CDT
A man has a cigarette at the bar of a restaurant in Baltimore in this January file photo.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr, FILE)
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(Newser) – If your friends all jumped off a bridge, you'd probably listen to your mom and not follow them, but how about if they started exercising? New research into social networks—in 3D, not on MySpace or Facebook—shows people are more likely to quit smoking or lose weight if someone close to them does likewise. The search for other applications is on, reports the Washington Post.

"It's sort of like an ant colony or a flock of birds," says one researcher. "A single bird doesn't decide to turn to the right or the left; the whole flock has mind of its own."