How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions | Damon Centola
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A new, counterintuitive theory for how social networks influence the spread of behavior
New social movements, technologies, and public-health initiatives often struggle to take off, yet many diseases disperse rapidly without issue. Can the lessons learned from the viral diffusion of diseases improve the spread of beneficial behaviors and innovations? How Behavior Spreads presents over a decade of original research examining how changes in societal behavior―in voting, health, technology, and finance―occur and the ways social networks can be used to influence how they propagate. Damon Centola's startling findings show that the same conditions that accelerate the viral expansion of an epidemic unexpectedly inhibit the spread of behaviors. How Behavior Spreads is a must-read for anyone interested in how the theory of social networks can transform our world.
"Winner of the Harrison White Book Award, Mathematical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association"
"This book is extraordinary. How Behavior Spreads is at once a terrific introduction to the study of diffusion and a powerful yet constructive challenge to some of its most cherished assumptions."―Mario Luis Small, Harvard University
"[Centola’s] ideas have exciting implications for social engineering, whether related to vaccination adoption in the developing world or a reduction of energy use in the West. . . . [They] present an appealing possibility to meet one of the challenges of democracy in the internet age."―Nina Jankowicz, New Scientist
"How Behavior Spreads is an essential addition to the core bookshelves of social scientists who care about networks and social change."―Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University
"Filled with refreshing, novel arguments that distinguish simple from complex contagions, this book concludes with innovative online experiments and provocative proposals for beneficial social engineering. I urge widespread diffusion of its outstanding ideas."―Mark Granovetter, Stanford University
"Overall, How Behavior Spreads is a must-read for researchers who are interested in social networks, social change, communication and technology, and computational social science. The lessons drawn from the book can also help health workers, movement activists, managers, user experiences designers to improve the success of diffusion and induce behavior change within a community."―Yu Xu, Information, Communication & Society
"Centola’s book is an important contribution to the literature on social networks combining rich, theoretical discussion with cutting-edge computational models and clear empirical examples."―Ryan Light, American Journal of Sociology
From the Back Cover
"Well-organized and well-written, How Behavior Spreads shows that complex and simple contagion processes are different, and that these differences are important for understanding a wide class of diffusion outcomes. This is a fine book."--Peter Bearman, Columbia University
"Developing an original perspective on diffusion via networks, this book's model and evidentiary approach are distinctive."--Peter Marsden, Harvard University
About the Author
Damon Centola is professor of communication, sociology, and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and director of the Network Dynamics Group.