Can Your Roommate’s Attitude Affect Your Outlook On Life?

By Rachael Smith, Alumna of Radford University

Image courtesy of marin /

Many colleges allow students to choose their roommates. This could be a best friend from their hometown or even through a roommate finder on Facebook. Either way, it is a difficult task to always be happy with your roommate, no matter how well the two (or even three) of you get along outside of the dorms.

According to an article on NPR, when you start to spend so much time with someone such as a roommate in college, their attitude and thinking can start to affect the way you act and feel towards different situations.

Psychologist Gerald Haeffel calls this “cognitive thinking” where something can happen to two separate people and they react completely differently.

Say, for instance, if you flunk a test, you might feel down about it but then realize you can improve for the next exam and get to studying. However, another student may beat themselves up about it and have it affect their entire week or even month. This kind of thinking has been proven to be contagious, according to Haeffel.

"These two reactions to the very same event can have very real implications for depression," said Haeffel to NPR.

And this can all start to occur within three months of living together.

According to the research, after six months of living with someone with a negative way of thinking, the other happy roommate began to show signs of the same attitude and had a higher risk for depression.

Luckily, this works for the other way around. Happy people can also “infect” the gloomy ones. Have you ever noticed an old friend of yours who might start spending more time with bad influences? You start to see a change in them. Many of us girls are easily swayed and can pick up mannerisms and ideas just by spending time with the right or wrong crowd.

But just know this: just as easily as you can affect  the people you surround yourself with, you can also be an influence to others. So be careful about the things you say and the ideas you put out there, because people are listening and picking up on it!

NEW FROM U CHIC: Get the scoop on finding post-college success from women who have achieved it in U Chic’s "Diploma Diaries," a perfect gift for the recent college graduate! Heading to college soon? Check out our best-selling and fully updated 3rd Edition of "U Chic: The College Girl's Guide to Everything" — your 411 on what college is really like.

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!