Damon Centola

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Damon Centola
Damon Centola.jpg
Damon Centola
Born (1973-07-19) July 19, 1973 (age 48)
NationalityAmerican
Known forComplex contagions, collective intelligence, experimental sociology
Academic background
Alma materCornell University (Ph.D.) (M.A.), Tufts University (M.A.), Marlboro College (B.A.)
ThesisElementary Forms of Collective Dynamics (2006)
Doctoral advisorMichael Macy
Academic work
DisciplineSociology
Sub-disciplineAgent based modeling, web-based experiments (Internet experiments), complex contagions, social networks, social epidemiology
InstitutionsUniversity of Pennsylvania, MIT, Harvard University, Stanford University
Websitendg.asc.upenn.edu

Damon Centola is a sociologist and professor in the Annenberg School for Communication, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Department of Sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania,[1] where he is director of the Network Dynamics Group.[2] Previously, he was an assistant professor at M.I.T. Sloan School of Management (2008–2013).[3] He was also a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow at Harvard University,[4] a member of Sci Foo Campers community, and a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.[5]

Centola's research focuses on the study of social networks, social epidemiology, and web-based experiments on diffusion and cultural evolution.[6][7][8][9][10]

Popular accounts of Damon's work have appeared in mainstream media publications such as The New York Times,[11] The Washington Post,[12] Wired,[13] TIME,[14] CBS,[15] and CNN.[16] His research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. He is a series editor for Princeton University Press.[17]

Centola is the author of Change: How to Make Big Things Happen, a scientific exploration of how beliefs, behaviors, and ideas spread through social networks for a popular audience. He is also the author of How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions. The book presents over a decade of original research and offers a counterintuitive theory for how social networks influence the spread of behavior.[18]

Career[edit]

Centola is best known for his work on complex contagions, collective intelligence, and experimental sociology. Complex contagions was the topic of his Ph.D. dissertation in Sociology, supervised by Michael Macy at Cornell University. After completing his doctorate degree at Cornell, Damon spent two years as a Robert Wood Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow in Health Policy at Harvard University. He then joined the faculty of the Sloan School of Management at MIT in 2008.[19] In 2013, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communications and founded the Network Dynamics Group as a center for theoretical research with testable policy applications.

Complex contagions[edit]

Centola and Macy found that information and disease spread as “simple contagions,” requiring only one contact for transmission, while behaviors typically spread as “complex contagions,” requiring multiple sources of reinforcement to induce adoption. Centola's work builds on Granovetter's work on the strength of weak ties and threshold models of collective behavior, as well as Duncan Watts and Steve Strogatz's work on small world networks. Centola and Macy show that the weak ties and small worlds networks are both very good for spreading simple contagions. However, for complex contagions, weak ties and small worlds can slow diffusion.[20] Centola used a network-based experimental method to test the theory of complex contagions and showed that predictions were confirmed.[21][22][23]

Centola's work on complex contagions also explores the importance of peer homophily[24] and structural diversity in the process of spreading behaviors.[25][26][27]

Experimental sociology[edit]

Centola pioneered the use of large scale online networks as an experimental tool for identifying the dynamics of social change. To test the theory of complex contagions, Centola developed the method of “Internet Network Experiments”, in which he constructed social networks within proprietary online communities to study how an innovation would propagate.[28][29][30]

Centola's first experimental sociology study conducted at Harvard University in 2010, called “The Healthy Lifestyle Network”, constructed 12 independent online communities. This experiment showed that experimentally controlled variations in the structure of a network could control how far and how fast an innovation would spread. This was the first study to demonstrate the causal effects of network structure on the spread of behavior.[31][32][33][34]

In 2011, Centola showed that the same method could be used to causally identify the effects of network homophily on the spread of health innovations.[35][36][37]

In 2015, he showed that this method could also be used to identify the causal effects of network structure in controlling the spontaneous emergence of new social norms.[38][39][40][41]

In a series of subsequent studies, he showed that the same method could be used to identify the causal effects of social networks on the creation of collective intelligence,[42][43] the emergence of political polarization,[44][45][46][47] and the identification of an exact “tipping point” for overturning an established social norm.[48][49][50][51]

Collective Intelligence[edit]

In 2017, Centola and his graduate students Joshua Becker and Devon Brackbill found that the “wisdom of the crowd” could be improved by using communication networks and that the structure of the social network changed the intelligence of the group.[52][53]

Decentralized networks, in which everyone had the same number of connections and same level of influence, consistently produced group judgements that were more accurate than the standard “wisdom of the crowd”. Centralized networks did not create these improvements because they gave a central, highly connected person more influence. Because of this disproportionate influence, they found that any errors by the central person would make the entire group underperform.

In subsequent studies, Centola and his graduate students Doug Guilbeault and Joshua Becker showed that the same networked collective intelligence process worked to improve group judgements, even when participants initially had strong partisan biases.[54][55][56][57]

Norms and Tipping Points[edit]

In 2015, Centola and physicist Andrea Baronchelli showed that the network structure of an online community can control the ability for people to converge on a shared social norm.[58][59][60][61]

Centola and his team then used the same empirical design in 2018 to test Centola's theory of critical mass. Centola's theory predicted and showed that 25% of people need to adopt a new social norm to create an inflection point where everyone in the group follows. Results showed that by getting above the 25% tipping point, a committed minority can have rapid success in changing an entire population's opinion.[62][63][64][65][66][67]

Awards[edit]

Damon Centola received the American Sociological Association's (ASA) 2017 James Coleman Award for Outstanding Article by the Rationality and Society Section,[68] and the 2018 Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Computational Social Science.

He received The American Sociological Association's (ASA) Award for Outstanding Article in Mathematical Sociology in 2006, 2009, and 2011,[69] and was awarded the ASA's 2011 Goodman Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Sociological Methodology.[70]

Centola was a developer of the NetLogo agent based modeling environment,[71] and was awarded a U.S. Patent for inventing a method to promote diffusion in online networks.[72]

References[edit]

  1. ^ University of Pennsylvania https://www.asc.upenn.edu/people/faculty/damon-centola-phd Retrieved November 7, 2016
  2. ^ Network Dynamics Group Retrieved November 5, 2017
  3. ^ Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office "Better health through social networking" MIT News. Retrieved September 3, 2010
  4. ^ RWJ Scholars in Health Policy Research Program, Harvard University http://www.rwj.harvard.edu/harvardscholars.html Retrieved November 5, 2016
  5. ^ CASBS Names 2014-15 Class of Fellows Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  6. ^ Centola, D. (2010) "The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network Experiment." Science Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1194-1197; DOI: 10.1126/science.1185231
  7. ^ Centola, D. (2011) "An Experimental Study of Homophily in the Adoption of Health Behavior" Science 02 Dec 2011: Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1269-1272; DOI: 10.1126/science.1207055.
  8. ^ Centola, D.; Baronchelli, A. (2014) The Spontaneous Emergence of Conventions: An Experimental Study of Cultural Evolution PNAS vol. 112 no. 7; 1989–1994, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1418838112.
  9. ^ Centola, D. (2015) The Social Origins of Networks and Diffusion American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 120, No. 5 (March 2015), pp. 1295-1338. DOI: 10.1086/681275 Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/681275.
  10. ^ Centola, D. (2012) A Simple Model of Stability in Critical Mass Dynamics Journal of Statistical Physics. J Stat Phys DOI 10.1007/s10955-012-0679-3
  11. ^ Natasha Singer. "Better Health, With a Little Help From Our Friends" The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2010
  12. ^ Meeri Kim. "Why everyone started naming their kids Madison instead of Jennifer" The Washington Post. Retrieved Feb 7, 2015.
  13. ^ Jess McNally. "Cluster Networks Spread Behavior Change Faster" WIRED. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
  14. ^ Mandy Oaklander. "Science Says This Is the Best Motivation to Exercise" TIME. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Mary Brophy Marcus. "Need motivation to exercise? Try a little healthy competition" CBS News. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  16. ^ Elizabeth Landau. "Similar friends may spread healthy behaviors" CNN. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  17. ^ Center for the Study of Social Organization Princeton University. Retrieved October 3, 2016
  18. ^ [1] Princeton University. Retrieved November 21, 2017
  19. ^ MIT News Office "Public-health networks." YouTube Retrieved November 07, 2016.
  20. ^ Centola, D.; Macy, M (2007) "Complex Contagions and the Weakness of Long Ties." AJS Volume 113 Number 3 (November 2007): 702–34.
  21. ^ Centola, Damon (2010) "The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network Experiment." Science Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1194-1197 (September 2010)
  22. ^ Centola, Damon (2018) "How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions." Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
  23. ^ Marco J. van der Leij (2011) "Experimenting with Buddies." Science 02 Dec 2011: Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1220-1221, DOI: 10.1126/science.1214836
  24. ^ Centola, Damon (2010) "An Experimental Study of Homophily in the Adoption of Health Behavior." Science 2011 Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1269-1272 DOI: 10.1126/science.1207055 (September 2011)
  25. ^ Ugander, Johan, Lars Backstrom, Cameron Marlow, and Jon Kleinberg (2012) "Structural Diversity in Social Contagion." PNAS April 17, 2012 109 (16) 5962-5966; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1116502109(April 2012)
  26. ^ State, Bogdan, and Lada Adamic (2015) "The Diffusion of Support in an Online Social Movement: Evidence from the Adoption of Equal-Sign Profile Pictures." Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing Pages 1741-1750
  27. ^ Centola, Damon (2010) "The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network Experiment." Science Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1194-1197 (September 2010)
  28. ^ Centola, Damon (2018) "How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions." Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
  29. ^ Marco J. van der Leij (2011) "Experimenting with Buddies." Science 02 Dec 2011: Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1220-1221, DOI: 10.1126/science.1214836
  30. ^ Centola, Damon (2013) "Social Media and the Science of Health Behavior." 28 May 2013 2013;127:2135–2144
  31. ^ Centola, Damon (2013) "The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network Experiment." Science (Sep 2010): Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1194-1197 DOI: 10.1126/science.1185231
  32. ^ Centola, Damon (2013) "Social Media and the Science of Health Behavior." 28 May 2013 2013;127:2135–2144
  33. ^ Jess McNally. "Cluster Networks Spread Behavior Change Faster" WIRED. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
  34. ^ Natasha Singer. "Better Health, With a Little Help From Our Friends" The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2010
  35. ^ Centola, Damon. (2011) "An Experimental Study of Homophily in the Adoption of Health Behavior." Science 02 Dec 2011: Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1269-1272 DOI: 10.1126/science.1207055
  36. ^ Centola, Damon. (2018) "How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions." Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  37. ^ Marco J. van der Leij (2011) "Experimenting with Buddies." Science 02 Dec 2011: Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1220-1221, DOI: 10.1126/science.1214836
  38. ^ Centola, Damon and Andrea Baronchelli (2015) "The Spontaneous Emergence of Conventions: An experimental Study of Cultural Evolution." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (7): 1989-1994.
  39. ^ Meeri Kim. "Why everyone started naming their kids Madison instead of Jennifer" The Washington Post. Retrieved Feb 7, 2015.
  40. ^ Meeri Kim. "Behind the Ebb and Flow of Baby Names" The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved Feb 7, 2015.
  41. ^ Carolyn Gregoire. "How Online Interaction Shapes Everything From Baby Name Trends To Revolutions" The Huffington Post. Retrieved Feb 6, 2015.
  42. ^ Becker, Joshua, Devon Brackbill, and Damon Centola (2017). "Network dynamics of social influence in the wisdom of crowds" PNAS June 27, 2017 114 (26) E5070-E5076; first published June 12, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1615978114
  43. ^ Becker, Joshua, Devon Brackbill, and Damon Centola (2017). "Reply to Bruggeman: Learning is robust to noise in decentralized networks" PNAS October 31, 2017 114 (44) E9184; first published October 26, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1714427114
  44. ^ Becker, Joshua, Ethan Porter and Damon Centola (2019). "The Wisdom of Partisan Crowds" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. May 28, 2019 116 (22) 10717-10722; first published May 13, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1817195116
  45. ^ Guilbeault, Doug, Joshua Becker and Damon Centola (2018). "Social learning and partisan bias in the interpretation of climate trends" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. September 25, 2018 115 (39) 9714-9719; first published September 4, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1722664115
  46. ^ Faye Flam. "He Seemed Like a Good Source, Until I Found Out He Was a Democrat" Bloomberg News. Retrieved Sept. 12, 2018.
  47. ^ Carolyn Y. Johnson. "Bursting people’s political bubbles could make them even more partisan" The Washington Post. Retrieved Sept. 7, 2018.
  48. ^ Centola, Damon, Joshua Becker, Devon Brackbill, and Andrea Baronchelli. (2018). "Experimental Evidence for Tipping Points in Social Convention" Science. 08 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6393, pp. 1116-1119 DOI: 10.1126/science.aas8827
  49. ^ Mark Wilson. "The Magic Number of People Needed to Create Social Change" Fast Company. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  50. ^ Ed Yong. "The Tipping Point When Minority Views Take Over" The Atlantic. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  51. ^ David Noonan "The 25% Revolution—How Big Does a Minority Have to Be to Reshape Society?" Scientific American Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  52. ^ Becker, Joshua, Devon Brackbill, and Damon Centola (2017). "Network dynamics of social influence in the wisdom of crowds" PNAS June 27, 2017 114 (26) E5070-E5076; first published June 12, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1615978114
  53. ^ Becker, Joshua, Devon Brackbill, and Damon Centola (2017). "Reply to Bruggeman: Learning is robust to noise in decentralized networks" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PNAS October 31, 2017 114 (44) E9184; first published October 26, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1714427114
  54. ^ Guilbeault, Doug, Joshua Becker and Damon Centola (2018). "Social learning and partisan bias in the interpretation of climate trends" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. September 25, 2018 115 (39) 9714-9719; first published September 4, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1722664115
  55. ^ Faye Flam. "He Seemed Like a Good Source, Until I Found Out He Was a Democrat" Bloomberg News. Retrieved Sept. 12, 2018.
  56. ^ Carolyn Y. Johnson. "Bursting people’s political bubbles could make them even more partisan" The Washington Post. Retrieved Sept. 7, 2018.
  57. ^ Becker, Joshua, Porter, Ethan, and Centola, Damon (2019). "The Wisdom of Partisan Crowds" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. May 28, 2019 116 (22) 10717-10722; first published May 13, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1817195116
  58. ^ Centola, Damon and Andrea Baronchelli (2015) "The Spontaneous Emergence of Conventions: An experimental Study of Cultural Evolution." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (7): 1989-1994.
  59. ^ Meeri Kim. "Why everyone started naming their kids Madison instead of Jennifer" The Washington Post. Retrieved Feb 7, 2015.
  60. ^ Meeri Kim. "Behind the Ebb and Flow of Baby Names" The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved Feb 7, 2015.
  61. ^ Carolyn Gregoire. "How Online Interaction Shapes Everything From Baby Name Trends To Revolutions" The Huffington Post. Retrieved Feb 6, 2015.
  62. ^ Centola, Damon (2013). "Homophily, Networks, and Critical Mass: Solving the Start-up Problem in Large Group Collective Action" Rationality and Society. First Published February 18, 2013. (25) 3-40.
  63. ^ Centola, Damon (2013). "A Simple Model of Stability in Critical Mass Dynamics" Journal of Statistical Physics. April 2013, Volume 151, Issue 1–2, pp 238–253
  64. ^ Centola, Damon, Joshua Becker, Devon Brackbill, and Andrea Baronchelli. (2018). "Experimental Evidence for Tipping Points in Social Convention" Science. 08 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6393, pp. 1116-1119 DOI: 10.1126/science.aas8827
  65. ^ Mark Wilson. "The Magic Number of People Needed to Create Social Change" Fast Company. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  66. ^ Ed Yong. "The Tipping Point When Minority Views Take Over" The Atlantic. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  67. ^ David Noonan "The 25% Revolution—How Big Does a Minority Have to Be to Reshape Society?" Scientific American Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  68. ^ The Section on Rationality and Society's James Coleman Award for Outstanding Article or Book American Sociological Association. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  69. ^ Section on Mathematical Sociology Outstanding Publication Award American Sociological Association. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  70. ^ The Section on Methodology's Leo Goodman Award American Sociological Association. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  71. ^ NetLogo Models Library: Sample Models/Social Science NetLogo. Retrieved November 6, 2016
  72. ^ Centola, et al United States Patent and Trademark Office Family ID: 39888340; App. Number: 11/809,328; Filed: May 31, 2007. Retrieved November 6, 2016.

External links[edit]