Jonah Berger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Jonah Berger
Jonah Berger Headshot.jpg
Born Washington, D.C.
Alma mater Stanford University, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Occupation Writer, Professor[1]
Known for

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior

Jonah Berger is a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is an expert on word of mouth, viral marketing, social influence, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on.[2] He has published dozens of articles in top‐tier academic journals, teaches Wharton’s highest rated online course, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times,[3][4] Wall Street Journal,[5] and Harvard Business Review.[6][7] Berger is the internationally bestselling author of multiple books including Contagious: Why Things Catch On (half a million copies are in print in over 30 languages) and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior.[8]

Berger is a popular speaker at major conferences and events, advises a number of early stage startups, and often consults for companies like Apple, Google,[8] Vanguard, Unilever, General Mills, and the Gates Foundation.[9]


Berger grew up in Washington DC and Chevy Chase Maryland and attended the magnet program at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. He earned his Ph.D. in marketing from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and his B.A. from Stanford University in Human Judgement and Decision Making. Berger writes regularly about psychology, marketing, social influence, and viral as a LinkedIn Influencer.[10]




Berger has published dozens of articles in leading, psychology, marketing, and general science journals. These include:

  • Berger, Jonah and Grant Packard, “Are Atypical Things More Popular?” Psychological Science
  • Grant Packard and Jonah Berger (2017), “How Language Shapes Word of Mouth’s Impact,” Journal of Marketing Research, 54(4), 572-588.
  • Akpinar, Ezgi and Jonah Berger (2015), “Drivers of Cultural Evolution: The Case of Sensory Metaphors,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109 (1), 20-34.
  • Berger, Jonah (2014) “Word-of-Mouth and Interpersonal Communication: A Review and Directions for Future Research” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(4), 586-607.
  • Berger, Jonah and Katy Milkman (2012), “What Makes Online Content Viral?” Journal of Marketing Research, 49 (2), 192-205.
  • Berger, Jonah and Raghuram Iyengar (2013), “Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message,” Journal of Consumer Research, October.
  • Zoey Chen and Jonah Berger (2013), “When, Why, and How Controversy Causes Conversation,” Journal of Consumer Research, October.
  • Berger, Jonah, Eric Bradlow, Alex Braunstein, and Yao Zhang (2012), “From Karen to Katie: Using Baby names to Study Cultural Evolution” Psychological Science, 23 (10), 1067-1073.
  • Sela, Aner and Jonah Berger (2012), “Decision Quicksand: How Trivial Choice Suck Us In” Journal of Consumer Research, 39(2), 360-370.
  • Berger, Jonah and Eric Schwartz (2011), “What Drives Immediate and Ongoing Word of Mouth?” Journal of Marketing Research, October, 869-880.
  • Berger, Jonah and Devin Pope (2011), “Can Losing Lead to Winning?” Management Science, 57(5), 817-827.
  • Berger, Jonah, Alan T. Sorensen, and Scott J. Rasmussen (2010), “Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales,” Marketing Science, 29(5), 815-827.
  • Berger, Jonah and Gael Le Mens (2009), “How Adoption Speed Affects the Abandonment of Cultural Tastes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 8146-8150.
  • Berger, Jonah, Marc Meredith, and S. Christian Wheeler (2008), “Contextual Priming: Where People Vote Affects How They Vote,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (26), 8846-8849.
  • Berger, Jonah and Gráinne M. Fitzsimons (2008), “Dogs on the Street, Pumas on Your Feet: How Cues in the Environment Influence Product Evaluation and Choice,” Journal of Marketing Research, 45(1), 1-14.
  • Berger, Jonah and Chip Heath (2007), “Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity-Signaling and Product Domains,” Journal of Consumer Research, 34(2), 121-134.

Theory on word of mouth[edit]

Berger's theory of what spreads with word of mouth is based on six key principles: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, stories.

Six key principles[edit]

  1. Social Currency – People talk about what makes them look good.
  2. Triggers – People talk about items associated with ideas and activities in people's lives because they're reminded of it.
  3. Emotion – People share what gives them high-arousal emotions.
  4. Public – People will do what other people are doing.
  5. Practical value – People will share what has practical value.
  6. Stories – People will share stories.

His 2013 book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, was based on research and real-world examples. [11]


Berger has been recognized for both his teaching and research with awards including:

  • William F. O’Dell Award, Journal of Marketing Research, 2017
  • Top 5 Most Productive Researchers in Marketing 2008-17, AMA DocSig 2017
  • American Management Association, Top 30 Leaders in Business (2015)
  • Berry-American Marketing Association Book Prize for Best Book in Marketing (2014)
  • Fast Company Most Creative People in Business (2013)
  • The American Marketing Association (AMA) Top 5 Most Productive Researchers in Marketing (2013)
  • The Association for Consumer Research (ACR) Early Career Award for Contribution to Consumer Research (2012)
  • The Society for Consumer Psychology (SCP) Early Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Consumer Psychology (2012)
  • The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Iron Professor Award for Awesome Faculty Research [1]
  • The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania MBA Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award, 2011
  • New York Times, Year in Ideas 2006


  1. ^ Clark, Dorie. "How to Create Viral Content". Forbes. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Sacks, Danielle. ""Fifty Percent Of 'The Tipping Point' Is Wrong." Jonah Berger Shows You Which Half". Fast Company. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Readers Don't Like to Be Fooled". Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  4. ^ Kitroeff, Natalie (2014-05-19). "Why That Video Went Viral". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  5. ^ Lehrer, Jonah (2011-07-23). "Why You Just Shared That Baby Video". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  6. ^ "When Controversy Sparks Buzz—and When It Doesn't". Harvard Business Review. 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  7. ^ "The Goldilocks Theory of Product Success". Harvard Business Review. 2016-07-07. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  8. ^ a b Anderson, Kare. "The Secret Behind Why Things Catch On". Forbes. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Berger, Jonah. "Jonah Berger". Jonah Berger. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Jonah Berger - Marketing Department". University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (25 February 2013). "'Contagious: Why Things Catch On,' by Jonah Berger" – via 

12. Viral Marketing: What makes something go viral? | Humanise The Brand

External links[edit]