Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Truth About Behavioral Change

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Truth About Behavioral Change

MIT Sloan Management Review,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Knowing about a great innovation won’t automatically make people adopt it. 

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


Knowing about a new service or technology won’t make people adopt it. Would you bother creating a Facebook account or learning the ins and outs of a new software tool if nobody else within your close circle was using the social platform or computer program? In an excerpt from his book, How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions, social scientist Damon Centola convincingly demonstrates that people’s networks of acquaintances – rather than close friends – matter most in spreading ideas or technology. Centola’s highly informative article is a must-read for anyone interested in the diffusion of innovation.


Despite common misperceptions, Twitter didn’t become the world’s largest communication platform by going viral. Just learning about the platform’s existence didn’t prompt people to start using it. Rather, Twitter grew incrementally, spreading from one social circle to the next. Twitter’s growth pattern was one of “complex contagion” rather than simple, or viral, contagion.

The distinction is relevant for organizations that want employees to embrace new behavior patterns or customers to adopt a new product. Information, like a virus, spreads through simple contagion...

About the Author

Damon Centola is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same author

Customers who read this summary also read

Related Channels