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Paperback Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Book

ISBN: 0316036137

ISBN13: 9780316036139

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect

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Book Overview

Celebrated scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explain the amazing power of social networks and our profound influence on one another's lives. Your colleague's husband's sister can make you fat, even if you don't know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse. These startling revelations of how much we truly influence one another are revealed in the studies of Dr. Christakis and Fowler, which have repeatedly...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A masterpiece

"Connected" by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler is one of the most important books you will ever read. In this insightful and thought-provoking book, the authors explore our social networks and their powerful shaping role in our daily lives. The authors show that the powerful role of social networks obeys the Three Degrees of Influence Rule, meaning that our behaviors have impact on our friends, our friends' friends, and our friends' friends' friends. This amazing fact can be applied to human experience as diverse as happiness, loneliness and other emotions, political views, sex, and health. For example, happiness can spread through social networks from person to person to person, and our health behaviors can affect those of our friends, our friends' friends, and even our friends' friends' friends. As I perused this book twice since its publication, I found reading "Connected" very delightful since it presents a constellation of thought-provoking, and sometimes counter-intuitive, ideas on social networks. We can enjoy the book solely for the purpose of enhancing our knowledge. But I think this book is much more than that and has meaningful implications in various ways. First and foremost, the book has very important implications for policymakers. For instance, as the authors articulated in Chapter 4, social-network perspectives can offer a whole new set of cost-effective public-health interventions. This innovative approach is particularly relevant at a time when soaring costs of health care are a major issue and health care reform is gaining momentum. Many policymakers now know that nudging is important, but they don't know how to implement it. This book provides a good answer. Second, "Connected" has significant implications for academia as well. Efforts to understand human behavior have been confined to a long debate of individualism versus holism. This book offers an entirely different way. By studying social networks, the authors suggest, we can find the missing link between the two perspectives. In other words, through the investigation of how emergent properties arise and exert influence on our lives, we can truly understand human condition and behavior for the first time. This is almost a manifesto, calling for a change in the traditions of "either or approach" between individualism and holism towards "both and approach" by means of the solid bridge offered by social networks that could resolve the chasm. Such a manifesto is convincing and has a strong stance because it is soundly supported by the thoroughly researched evidence from the authors and others. Finally, this book has meaningful implications for each and every individual because we are all embedded in our social network (both real-world and online network). The fact that we are all connected to others through social networks is significant to us partly because such networks influence us in every aspect. So after reading this book, some may behave differently so that s

Lives intertwined

One of the authors, a Harvard professor, became interested in social connectivity when observing that the mortality rate of spouses spike after a partner passes away. He teamed up with coauthor Fowler, a health systems and political scientist, to compare topology (the hows of a given structure) across different social networks to better explain how participation and positioning enhances the effectiveness of an individual, and why the "whole" of a network is "greater than the sum of its parts." The book presents some rules describing the relationship between individuals and their networks that include: i) mutual adaptation ii) the influence of friends and friends' friends iii) the network's "life of its own" These rules do more than promote the good of the group: they also spread contagions; create "epidemics" of obesity, smoking and substance abuse; disseminate fads and markets; alter voting patterns; and more. The phenomenon the authors discuss is pretty darn complex, but they do a good job of dumbing it down for the rest of us. All in all, an entertaining read.

Best book of the year

As an author, psychotherapist, and teacher, I read a lot of books. Most are read, enjoyed, and soon forgotten. However, occasionally I come across a book that is hard-hitting, informative, and changes the way we understand ourselves, each other, and the world. Connected is such a book. To give you an idea I usually put little flags on pages with information I think is significant and want to remember. I usually have 10 or 12 little flags in a good book. In this book I have 120 flags and many of the flags have little notes I've written. For instance, I've flagged this important point: "So while the observation that there are six degrees of separation between any two people applies to how connected we are, the observation that there are three degrees of influence applies to how contagious we are. These properties, connection and contagion, are the structure and function of social networks. They are the anatomy and physiology of the human superorganism." Why is that important to everyday people? Well, how about because happiness as well as depression can spread along our social networks and make us joyful or sad, or because your future spouse is likely to be your friend's friend, or because your friends' friends' friends can make you fat, or thin. If you really want to be happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise, I recommend you read Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

what we always suspected

I loved this book. Sensitive, aware people perceive on a daily basis that actions, behaviors and emotions impact the lives of those around us, but the science that proves conclusively that your behaviors are impacting mine, my spouse's and friend's in Idaho offers such hope for improvement in the cosmic social network of which we all have our "connectedness". I loved the anecdotal stories - Nicholas and Erika meeting, the Starbucks employee, crazy unstoppable laughter - to which each reader will add additional network stories. We are connected, like it or not, so perhaps we can all start behaving in ways that benefit the entire network. Everyone who reads this will think twice about the impact of cutting someone off in traffic. Dr Christakis and Dr. Fowler have written for the scientific world, NY Times and lay reader - all who are part of the network.
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