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Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point Theory Debunked

A Columbia University sociologist Duncan Watts a long-time opponent of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” theory, has published a piece showing with empirical and computer simulated tests that the Gladwell’s hypothesis is inaccurate.

The ‘Tipping Point’ phenomenon has been used by marketers and advertisers to target individual influencers of opinion.    Watts says that “Almost all of the action is away from the center.”   Essentially, the sphere of influence of any one individual is small compared to the greater population base and it is word of mouth that creates and spurs virality.

Via Ars Technica.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. jmc
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 15:57:27

    This does not surprise me at all. I remember reading The Tipping Point (one of the partners at my old job swore by Gladwell’s Tipping Point book, to the point where he made everyone in the office read it) and thinking that it didn’t really seem empirically based. Of course, at this point, the only thing I remember clearly is the intro about Paul Revere and the Other Rider who has faded into history.

  2. stephanie feagan
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 20:39:16

    I’m so glad to know this. Very interesting stuff.

    Now Gladwell should write The Point of Tipping.

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