Despite the common-held belief that social isolation improves mental health, a new Harvard study suggests that cultivating and maintaining relationships can actually reduce depression rather than encourage it.
The study’s researchers created a new model, codenamed Common Sense, that analyzed the relationships a typical person might have throughout his or her life. To the surprise of many, the model concluded that people with loving parents, healthy marriages, and strong support networks were happier than people who spent every waking hour in social isolation.
“We never would have guessed this is what the model would have come up with,” said Dr. George Toobin, lead author and co-creator of Common Sense. “This might make us rethink all of these lockdowns and quarantines. Maybe spending time with other human beings is a good thing.”
Despite the model’s seemingly decisive results, skeptics aren’t fully accepting the conclusion. “I’m not buying it,” said Thomas Percy, who runs a company that researches and manufactures virtual reality technology. “Isolation encourages reflection. It allows us to dig deep into our inner being. Spending time with other people creates conflict and division.”
Mr. Percy wasn’t alone in his conclusions. Netflix, Hulu, and other video streaming services all expressed skepticism over the validity of the study.