Study of the influence of social networks from a health perspective

This study of social networks is from Harvard Professor Nicholas Christakis, who during this TEDtalk came out with this superbness:

Our experience of the world depends on the architecture of the ties around us, it depends on the actual structure of the networks in which we are residing and on all the kinds of things that ripple and flow through the network.

Human beings assemble themselves and form a kind of super organism. A super organism is a collection of individuals which show behaviours or phenomena that are not reducible to the study of individuals and must be understood by reference to and by studying the collective

Compare this ‘super organism’ to a hive of bees looking for new nesting site or flock of birds and then apply it to market crashes, adoption of innovation etc. We form social networks because the benefits of a connective life outweigh the costs such as the spread of good and valuable things

What is spread is not a behaviour, but a new ‘norm’, an idea.

About Nicholas Christakis

At Harvard, Christakis is a Professor of Medicine, Health Care Policy, and Sociology, and he directs a diverse research group investigating social networks.

His work examines the biological, psychological, sociological, and mathematical rules that govern how we form these social networks, and the rules that govern how they shape our lives. His work shows how phenomena as diverse as obesity, smoking, emotions, ideas, germs, and altruism can spread through our social ties, and how genes can partially underlie our creation of social ties to begin with. His work also sheds light on how we might take advantage of an understanding of social networks to make the world a better place.

Thanks for the hat-tip Chris and Raz.