The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is one of the set texts we read as part of our design studies course. It looks at the moment; the tipping point, when behaviour, ideas or trends cross the line and become huge and spread, the things which come into everyday life such as epidemics be they medical or social and explains how our society reacts to cause the transformation – how little things can make a huge difference.
The mind map was a way to understand the book and at a glance show how things can spread and relate to each other. What started as a simple exercise to look at the Three Rules of The Tipping Point; the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context, just grew and grew as I got more engrossed, I have done a paper version of the mind map but then I found a little technology to play with, it’s by Tony Buzan called iMindMap and once more I really got into the process. The detailed mind map looks at the Law of the Few section of the book and the list on the side shows the books, journals and studies Gladwell used through out this section. Below the maps you’ll find the annotated bibliography.
Below is the section I chose to look at in more detail. This part of the book is really fascinating to read but more importantly you start to recognise people you know who fit into these sections; I have the perfect maven sitting behind me in the studio, I just happened to mention that I might go to Barcelona after Christmas, immediately she could tell me where exactly to go, not only for the good apartments (one of which she recommended), restaurants and galleries but to make sure the taxi driver doesn’t charge more than 70 euros from the airport!
I met the perfect connector many years ago who knows so many people as he has weak links through travel, work and socialising and always “knows a boy who knows a boy”! And the salesman, yes charming, likeable, trusting and draw you in, I’ve known and worked with quite a lot of those over the years but its the body language that really fascinates me, reading this section of the book opened up a whole new world of how we act and respond subconsciously. How fraction of a second body movements can make a big impact on our lives. How a smile can infect someone with happiness but on the negative side if someone is susceptible a frown can make them sad and also how people in the public view can change governments! In fact how little things can make a huge difference.
Condon, W. S., 1982. Cultural Microrhythms. In: Davis, M., ed., 1982. Interaction Rhythms: Periodicity in Communicative Behavior. New York: Human Science Press, 53 -76.
Condon led the way on microrhythm study and he scrutinised the micromovements between people in conversation, noting how their body movements danced and moved in harmony together. This reference backs up what Gladwell was saying of the conversation he had with Gau. Sitting opposite each other Gau through his speech, facial expressions and body movements had forged a bond and they were ‘dancing’ together. This is also compared to musicians and how they know and recognise when their audience is with them. This was studied by Cappella from the School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
Feick, L. F., Price, L. L., 1987. The Market Maven: A Diffuser of Marketplace Information. Journal of Marketing, 51, 83 -97.
Friedman, H., et al., 1980. Understanding and Assessing Nonverbal Expressiveness: The Affective Communication Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39 (2), 333 -351.
Friedman, H., Riggio, R., 1981. Effect of Individual Differences in Nonverbal Behavior on Transmission of Emotion. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 6. 96 – 104
Granovetter, M., 1995. Getting a Job. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
According to Gladwell this is a thorough study which used several hundred professional and technical workers and looked at how they got their jobs. The source backs up the Rod Steiger study results where it seems that weak ties are more of an advantage than close acquaintances when it comes down to applying for and receiving work.
Hackett Fischer, D., 1994. Paul Revere’s Ride. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gladwell uses this source to explain the story of Paul Revere, a story that is told to every American schoolchild. He refers to the book throughout the chapter where he uses it to show the significance of connectors mavens and salesmen. The book would have backed up his memory and made sure the facts were correct according to Hackett Fischer.
Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., Rapson, R. L., 1994. Emotional Contagion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Gladwell mentions gentle sub-conscious persuasion or in the case of some salesmen deliberately copying our movements in the effort to flatter us. This study looks at how its not just good salesmen who can influence us. Mimicry is also infectious and even a picture of someone smiling can cause us to smile, the study also looked at how the smile or frown can influence how we feel inside and affect our emotions. To have this effect on someone is a powerful tool in the hands of a good salesmen.
Higie, R. A., Feick, L. F., Price, L. L., 1987. Types and Amount of Word-of-Mouth Communications About Retailers, Journal of Retailing, Fall Issue, 63 (3), 260 – 278.
Inman, J. J., McAlister, L., Hoyer W. D., 1990. Promotional Signal: Proxy for a Price Cut? Journal of Consumer Research, 17, 74 – 81.
Kochen, M., ed., 1989. The Small World. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corp.
The Small World is a book of which Kochen is the editor, he brings together different studies that have been carried out of which Milgrams’ was one and this would back up the information for Gladwell. Kochen was a mathematician interested in social networks
Milgram, S., 1967. The Small World Problem. Psychology Today, 1, 60 – 67.
this is a very thorough study looking at how people are linked together and is predecessor to the study by Tjaden page 47 where he worked out the fewest steps to Kevin Bacon not stopping there but going on to look at the connectedness of every Hollywood actor. These both show that weak links travel further. The stock brokers were excellent connectors because they had many weak ties, they came across people from many different walks of life
Mullen, B., et al., 1986. Newscasters’ facial expressions and voting behavior of viewers: Can a smile elect a President? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 291 – 295.
Here someone elses’ body movement influences the public. The study by Mullen was really thorough and seems well planned, the part of the study where the public were asked to score emotional content though is open for debate as one persons’ measurement of emotion could be different to another however the emotional score for Peter Jennings talking about Reagan was so obviously higher than the other scores that it would seem to back up the argument. The experiment didn’t stop there though with the researchers going into the community to ask the viewers watching the news readers how they voted. Their votes back up the argument that the emotion shown on Jennings face did influence them, without their realisation. Gladwell uses this study to explain subtle methods of persuasion and to back up how salesman like Gau can influence us so effectively without having to speak to us.
Price, L. L., Feick, L. F., Guskey, A., 1995. Everyday Market Helping Behavior. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Fall Issue, 14 (2), 255 – 266.
Tjaden, B., Oracle of Bacon, (online), available from: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/oracle/ . Accessed 13th October, 2010
“Six degrees of Kevin Bacon” this is a fun game and one we’ve all played at some point, it brilliantly explains how people in the same field connect. Steiger is an excellent example of how weak ties make strong connectors because as an actor he has worked in so many different types of film, he is a lot older than many of the famous Hollywood actors and the opportunity to mix with in the different levels of the film world.
Wells, G. L., Petty, R. E., 1980. The Effects of Overt Head Movements on Persuasion. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 1 (3), 219 – 230.
This study fascinates me that humans can be influenced by body movement without realising it. The persuasion used is so subtle but also goes along well with the work of Mullen et al who looked at the newscasters body language and how it is said to have influenced the public.
Werner, C., Parmelee, P., 1979. Similarity of Activity Preferences Among Friends: Those Who Play Together Stay Together. Social Psychology Quarterly, 42 (1), 62 -66.
This doesn’t contradict the Milgram and Tjaden studies but shows how easy it is for a community to stay very closed and comfortable with their surroundings. The question asked of them though was to name their closest friend not how they would connect to the stock broker whose office was in Boston and who lived in Massachusetts. Perhaps if they had been asked this question they too would have been able to provide a link. It also doesn’t mean that they aren’t connectors though.