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The Tipping Point

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The Tipping Point

  1. 1. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell Destiny Reid, Morgan Misak, John Medina, Haley Lamm, and Aaron Covell
  2. 2. Introduction • The incidental touch: (hushpuppies) • The Critical Point (crime rates) • Contagious Behavior • Little changes have big effects • Incremental changes
  3. 3. Beginning of Epidemics and The Tipping Point • Contagious Behavior; little things have big effects; change is not gradual but one dramatic moment are principals of an epidemic • Name given to one dramatic moment in an epidemic, when everything changes at once is called the Tipping Point • Sudden Change is at the center of the Tipping Point and is the hardest to understand • Geometric Progression
  4. 4. The Tipping Point • Moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point • Automatically assume that neighborhoods and social problems decline in a steady progression • Do not decline steadily at all, at the tipping point control can be lost and everything can disintegrate • Unexpected becomes expected
  5. 5. Two Main Questions • Why is it that some ideas or behaviors or products start epidemics and others don’t? • What can we do to deliberately start and control positive epidemics of our own?
  6. 6. Chapter 1: The Three Rules of Epidemics • Only takes a small change to shatter an epidemics equilibrium • More than one way to tip an epidemic • When an epidemic’s equilibrium tips its because something has happened, some change has occurred • 80/20 Principle
  7. 7. Social Epidemics • Driven by efforts of a handful of exceptional people • Law of the Few • Stickiness in tipping: Critical component in the tipping point • Stickiness factor: specific ways of making a contagious message memorable • Power of Context: human beings are more sensitive to our environment then we may seem
  8. 8. People in Epidemics • Strongly influenced by their situation, circumstances and conditions and particulars of the environments in which they operate • Even the smallest and subtlest and most unexpected factors can affect they way we act • When people are in a group, responsibility is diffused (assume someone else will take responsibility) • There really isn’t a problem if someone else isn’t assuming responsibility
  9. 9. Rules of the Tipping Point • Law of the Few • The Stickiness Factor • The power of Context • Provide us with direction for reaching the tipping point
  10. 10. Chapter 2: The Law of the Few • People critical to social epidemics • Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen • Word of Mouth Epidemic • Success of any kind is dependent on the involvement of people with a particular set of social gifts • Associate with people who occupy the same physical spaces we do
  11. 11. Connectors • Know lots of people • Introduce us to our social circles • People who we rely on the most without noticing • Special gift of bringing people together
  12. 12. Chapter 2 Continued: Intro to Mavens • Maven is one who accumulates knowledge • Information specialists • Not many people compare prices; rely on Mavens • Have info on a lot of different products, prices, and places • Well over half of Americans know a Maven
  13. 13. Downfalls of Mavens • Desire of service and influence can be taken too far • Can become nosy • Not a persuader, but educator and helper • Have to remember that it’s “their life”
  14. 14. Mavens, Connectors & Salesmen ConnectorsMavens Salesmen • Data banks • Provide the message • “Social glue” • Spread the message • Skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing • Are as critical to the “tipping” of word-of-mouth epidemics as the other two
  15. 15. Subtleties of Persuasion • Market research study by a company making high-tech headphones • Wanted to “test how well headset worked while student was in motion” • Dancing up and down, nod heads vigorously up and down, or side to side • Listened to radio about tuition increase after song was played • Question asked afterwards: “What do you feel would be an appropriate dollar amount for undergraduate tuition next year?”
  16. 16. Results • Results correlated with the student’s head movement • Reason 1: Subtle verbal message; harder to insulate themselves against • Reason 2: Nonverbal cues more important than verbal cues • Reason 3: Persuasion often works in ways that we do not appreciate
  17. 17. Interactional Synchrony • Research has found that two people will gesture and talk in harmony • When 2 people talk, volume and pitch come into balance • Speech rate and latency equalizes • Conversational patterns almost instantly reach a common ground
  18. 18. Persuasive Personality: Our “Super-Reflex” • We are barely aware of it • You can draw others into your own rhythms and dictate terms of interactions • Students with high degree of synchrony with teachers more happy • Imitate each other’s emotions to express support • “Mimicry”: If I can make you smile, I can make you happy
  19. 19. Chapter 3: The Stickiness Factor Joan Cooney & sesame street • Target was 3-5 year olds • Agent of infection was television • “Virus” she wanted to spread was literacy • Hope was that the show could become educational Tipping Point
  20. 20. The Quality of Sickness • If you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them • Kids are distracted by toys, but still understand show • Can gain no more from increased attention • Kids watch when they understand and look away when they are confused
  21. 21. Chapter 4: The Power of Context (Part One) The Stickiness Factor • Sesame Street • Blue’s Clues • Mutual Exclusivity
  22. 22. The Power of Context • Bernie Goetz • Broken Windows Theory • Zimbardo Prison Experiment
  23. 23. Chapter 5: The Power of Context (Part Two) • Groups have a critical role in social epidemics • They create peer pressure and social norms that influence the beginnings of epidemics • The spread of any new and contagious ideology has a lot to do with the skillful use of group power • Small, close-knit groups have the power to magnify the epidemic potential message or idea
  24. 24. Social Epidemic Examples John Wesley – A Connector • He would form the most enthusiastic followers into religious societies • Each member was required to attend weekly meetings and adhere to the strict code of conduct or else they were expelled from the group • He wasn’t one person with ties to many groups, but was one person with ties to many groups
  25. 25. Social Epidemic Examples Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells • Book showed up on the first best seller list in Northern California • San Francisco is home to one of the country’s strongest book-group cultures • Inspired emotion, reflection, and discussion for groups of women in “book-groups”
  26. 26. What Are The Most Effective Groups In Reaching A Tipping Point? Is there a simple rule of thumb that distinguishes a group with real social authority from a group with little power at all?
  27. 27. Human Limitations • There seems to be some limitation built into us either by learning or by the design of our nervous system • Magical Number Seven- Bell wanted to have a number to be as long as possible so they could have as large a capacity as possible, but not so that people couldn’t remember the numbers
  28. 28. Key Definitions • Channel Capacity: the amount of space in our brain for certain kinds of information • Intellectual Capacity: our ability to process raw information • Emotional Channel Capacity (Sympathy Group): the people we devote most of our attention to, the people you know whose death would leave you truly devastated • Social Channel Capacity: deals with complex thought and reasoning, related to the neocortex • Transactive Memory System: based on the understanding about who is best suited to remember what kinds of things
  29. 29. Robin Dunbar • The larger the neocortex of any species of primate, the larger the average size of the groups they live with • Brains get bigger in order to handle the complexities of larger social groups • Groups have to understand personal dynamics of the group, juggle different personalities, keep people happy, manage the demands on your own time and attention • A small increase in the size of a group creates a significant additional social and intellectual burden
  30. 30. Dunbar’s Number • Neocortex ratio for Homo sapiens: 147.8 rounded up to 150 • Represents the max. number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship with • “At this size, orders can be implemented and unruly behavior controlled on the basis of personal loyalties and direct man-to-man contacts. With larger groups, this becomes impossible.”
  31. 31. The Rule of 150 • Peer pressure is much more powerful than a concept of a boss • It’s knowing people well enough that what they think of you matters • Everyone shares a common relationship • The paradox of the movement: In order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first
  32. 32. Chapter 6: Case Study: Rumors, Sneakers, and the Power of Translation Why did Airwalk tip? • The Lambeis marketing strategy • Diffusion model: detailed, academic way of looking at how a contagious idea or product or innovation moves through a population
  33. 33. Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen • Take ideas and information from a highly specialized world and translate them into a language the rest of us can understand • Innovators try something new • Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen sees it and adopts • Rumors are the most contagious of all social messages
  34. 34. Chapter 7: Case Study: Suicide, Smoking, and the Search for the Unsticky Cigarette • Contagiousness is in larger part a function of the messenger • Stickiness is primarily a property of the message • It is important to keep these two concepts separate, because they follow very different patterns and suggest very different strategies
  35. 35. Suicide Epidemic • Sima, a 17 year old boy who lived on the South Pacific islands of Micronesia • In the early 1960’s suicide on the islands of Micronesia was almost unknown – in the 1980’s the islands had the highest rate of suicide in the world • Micronesia 160 per 100,000 citizens • United States 22 per 100,000 citizens
  36. 36. Suicide Continued • He takes a rope and makes a noose, but does not suspend himself, as in a typical Western hanging • He ties the noose to a low branch, window, or doorknob and leans forward, so that the weight of his body draws the noose tightly around his neck • Slowly cutting off the flow of blood to the brain; Unconsciousness follows • Death results from anoxia – the shortage of blood to the brain
  37. 37. Suicide Continued • David Phillips, sociologist at the University of California at San Diego, has conducted a number of studies on suicide • Immediately after stories about suicides appeared, suicides in the area served by the newspaper jumped: In national stories, the rate jumped as well • Marilyn Monroe’s death was followed by a temporary 12 percent increase in national suicide rate
  38. 38. Suicide Continued • The kind of contagion Phillips is talking about isn’t something rational or even necessarily conscious; it’s not a persuasive argument: It’s something much more subtle than that • Perceived as “permission” it gives other people – particularly those vulnerable to suggestion because of immaturity or mental illness – to engage in the deviant act as well • This person is the Tipping Person, the Salesmen
  39. 39. Smoking Epidemic • Does teen smoking follow this same logic? • Teen smoking does not simply illustrate the Law of the Few, it is also a very good illustration of the Stickiness Factor • In this epidemic there are also Tipping People, Salesmen, permission-givers
  40. 40. Smoking Continued • Can you remember your interaction with cigarettes? • Gladwell conducted a questionnaire to several hundred people and discovered the answers were strikingly similarly • Smoking seemed to evoke a particular kind of childhood memory – vivid, precise, emotionally charged
  41. 41. Smoking Continued • Hans Eysenck, British psychologist, argues that smokers and non smokers can be separated along very simple personality lines • The quintessential hard-core smoker, according to Eysenck, is an extrovert • If you bundle all of these extroverts’ traits together – defiance, sexual precocity, honesty, impulsiveness, indifference to the opinion of others, sensation seeking – you come up with an almost perfect definition of the kind of person many adolescents are drawn too
  42. 42. Smoking Continued • The significance of someone's environment and nature plays a major role in whether this epidemic • Saul Shiffman, University of Pittsburgh psychologist, describes people who smoke no more than five cigarettes a day but smoke at least four days a week as “chippers” • Shiffman calls “chippers” the equivalent of social drinkers; they are people in control of their habit
  43. 43. Smoking Continued • To solve this epidemic you must ask two questions • Should we try to make smoking less contagious, to stop the Salesmen who spread the smoking virus? • Or are we better off trying to make it less sticky, to look for ways to turn all smokers into “chippers”?
  44. 44. The Unsticky Cigarette • There already is a ban on advertisement, strict laws, and higher prices • This however, isn’t working, instead its motivating adolescence who have smoking personalities to continue/experiment with cigarettes • Controlling the contagion isn’t working
  45. 45. The Unsticky Cigarette Continued • “Chippers” who smoke up to five cigarettes a day consume between four to six milligrams of nicotine, which is approximately the addiction threshold • Benowitz and Jack Henningfield proposed a way to control the Stickiness of cigarettes • By lowering the level of nicotine – if someone smokes 30 cigarettes in a day could only get five milligrams of nicotine within a 24-hour period – it would reduce the the Stickiness of a Cigarette
  46. 46. The Unsticky Cigarette Continued • This level of nicotine should be adequate to prevent or limit the development of addiction in most young people • At the same time it may provide enough nicotine for taste and sensory stimulation • Cigarette smoking would be less like the flu and more like the common cold; easily caught but easily defeated
  47. 47. Chapter 8: Conclusion • Starting epidemics requires concentrating resources on a few key areas • The Band-Aid solution is actually the best kind of solution because it involves solving a problem with the minimum amount of effort and time and cost
  48. 48. Conclusion Continued • To make sense of social epidemics, we must first understand that human communication has its own set of very unusual and counterintuitive rules • Social change is so volatile and so often inexplicable, because it is the nature of all of us to be volatile and inexplicable
  49. 49. Conclusion Continued • “Tipping points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It’s not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped.” –Malcolm Gladwell
  50. 50. Afterword • “I wrote my book without any clear expectation of who would read it, or what, if anything, it would be useful for.” • One of the things that motivated Gladwell to write The Tipping Point was the mystery of word of mouth – a phenomenon that everyone seemed to agree was important but no one knew how to define
  51. 51. Afterword: Understanding the Age of Isolation • School Shooting Epidemic – Columbine • Epidemics in isolation follow a mysterious, internal script that makes sense only in the closed world that teenagers inhabit
  52. 52. Afterword: Beware of the Rise of Immunity • One thing Gladwell didn’t talk much on, but which he has been asked over and over again, is the effect of the internet • Kevin Kelly, guru of the New Economy • “Fax Effect” or the law of plentitude • The fact that everyone has a phone makes the phone network very powerful, in theory
  53. 53. Afterword: Finding the Mavens • Ivory Soap and Lexus – Maven Trap • Distinguished not by worldly status and achievements, but by the particular standing they have among their friends • People look up to them not out of envy, but out of love, which is why these kids of personalities have the power to break through the rising tide of isolation and immunity

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