Op-Eds and Features


A Redefining Influence: The New Complex Contagion Playbook with Damon Centola

Podcast: Joseph Jaffe is Not Famous
Sept 2023
Damon Centola’s insights offer a seismic shift in the way we think about influencing the influencers. As we pivot from our outdated methodologies, it’s imperative for business leaders to adapt and understand the real mechanics of social contagions and networks. In a world where ‘timing and luck’ sound like bingo phrases, Dr. Centola argues for an empirically-grounded approach to orchestrate wide-scale change.

A Hive Mind of Doctors Can Mean Better Care for Patients

TIME Magazine
July 2023
A TIME Magazine article discusses the findings of Dr. Centola’s most recent publication, “Experimental evidence for structured information–sharing networks reducing medical errors”.

Making Doctors Better With the Wisdom of the Crowd

UPenn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
July 2023
Dr. Centola talks with LDI about his newest publication on clinical information-sharing networks. He discusses his initial interest in the topic and applications of the findings.

How Does Behavior Change Spread Through Organizations?

Brain For Business Podcast
June 2023
On this podcast episode, Dr. Centola has a talk with the host, Laurence Knell, about his research on behavior change at the organizational and societal level.

Discussing Change and the Future of Social Research 

Dr. Centola’s interview with Jaakko Porokuokka
March 2023
Damon Centola sits down with Sitra Labs, a Finnish innovation group involved in social research pursuits. Dr. Centola discusses his background, his book, and the future of social research.

New Ways to Predict Influence in Social Networks 

Damon Centola talks with NoBeC
February 2023
The Penn Center for Norms and Behavioral Change invites Dr. Centola to give a talk on complex centrality and new ways to predict influence. He touches on network construction and clustered networks and how structure influences behavior spread.

Addressing Women’s Healthcare Concerns 

Jen White talks with Damon Centola
February 2023
Dr. Centola appears on NPR’s 1A show to talk about gendered bias among clinicians in healthcare settings and how to overcome it. Dr. Centola states that implementing strong peer networks to distribute feedback among clinicians can drastically reduce bias.

Tipping Points in Social Convention 

Cecile Tamura interviews Damon Centola
October 2022
Quantum Photonics interviews Dr. Centola about Tipping Points within populations for implementing successful behavior change. Once a tipping point has been reached, it can cause dramatic shifts in behavior for entire populations.

How to Make Big Things Happen 

Aidan McCullen interviews Damon Centola
August 2022
The Innovation Show Podcast hosts Dr. Centola and opens up a discussion around the different contexts in which change takes place. Researching change and social networks can help us understand complex systems such as COVID-19, political polarization, and implicit bias.

Culture Change in Finance 

Stephen Scott interviews Damon Centola
June 2022
On an individual level, understanding unconscious biases and heuristics is the best way to overcome them, but to enact positive culture changes it is important to understand nudges and implement them with precision.

Utilizing Social Networks to Create Lasting Change 

Lawrence Jones interviews Damon Centola
March 2022
What can social network theory tell us to ensure successful spread of innovation? How can we drive behavioral change to keep pace with new ideas? And what does it mean to consider the width of a bridge in collaboration?

The Psychology of Making Big Things Happen and Ideas Spread 

Srinivas Rao interviews Damon Centola
January 2022
Damon Centola shares his wisdom on how ideas and beliefs spread through social networks as well as how they can spark change in the behavior of their supporters.

Medical bias can be deadly. Our research found a way to curb it 

Damon Centola
November 2021
Our research has found a way to remove race & gender bias from clinicians’ patient recommendations and improve healthcare for everyone through group reasoning via structured social networks.

Changes & Contagions: Spreading New Ideas and Behaviors to Make Great Things Happen

Greg LaBlanc interviews Damon Centola
November 2021
New social movements, beliefs, behaviors, and technologies often struggle to gain traction. Some diseases, such as Covid-19, spread quickly and created a world-changing pandemic. Could the idea of viral diseases be applied in spreading innovations and beneficial behaviors?

The Dangers of Social Media 

Damon Centola
October 2021
Social media platforms are incentivized to instigate “tribal loyalties” that polarize us and make us intolerant of differing points of view. This article highlights several tactics you can easily employ to avoid these pitfalls.

TikTok stars shouldn’t hawk vaccines 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
August 2021
It’s good news that the White House sees the urgency of persuading people to get vaccinated and sees potential in targeted social messaging. But social media influencers aren’t the right spokespeople.

How to turn the tide on vaccine hesitancy: Apply an algorithm that actually works 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
August 2021
Now more than ever, applying our learnings on complex contagions and social influence can help get us out of this wrenching pandemic.

Understanding Spread of Ideas, Movements, And Behaviors in “Change”

Armen Shirvanian interviews Damon Centola
August 2021
Damon discusses topics from his book “Change: How To Make Big Things Happen.”

Well-connected members of tight-knit groups spread controversial ideas much more readily than “influencers” 

Amy McDermott
July 2021
Want to spread a complex idea? Target small, tight-knit groups with wide bridges to other groups, and watch how momentum builds as individual members influence each other.

Vaccines and Social Networks

Danielle Clark interviews Damon Centola
July 2021
Damon discusses vaccines in the context of social networks and behavior change.

Change: How to Make Big Things Happen

Mark Sutcliffe interviews Damon Centola
June 2021
When it comes to lasting change in what we think or the way we live, the dynamics are different: beliefs and behaviors are not transmitted from person to person in the simple way that a virus is. The real story of social change is more complex. When we are exposed to a new idea, our social networks guide our responses in striking and surprising ways.

The Contagion of Doubt: Vaccines and Social Media 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
May 2021
Spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt is an effective tactic. It spreads suspicion and leads people to retreat back to the assumed safest choice.

Damon Centola on The Current 

Clive Priddle interviews Damon Centola
April 2021
How did Trump mobilize Twitter when he was elected president in 2016? Damon Centola, sociologist and author of CHANGE, talks in-depth about Twitter, regulating social networks, crowds influencing individual behavior, the fall of the Berlin Wall and more.

The Snowball Effect

Shankar Vedantam interviews Damon Centola
April 2021
Why do some companies become household names, while others flame out? How do certain memes go viral? And why do some social movements take off and spread, while others fizzle? Sociologist Damon Centola talks about social contagion, and how it can be harnessed to build a better world.

How Does “Going Viral” Actually Work?

David Pakman interviews Damon Centola
April 2021
Damon discusses myths and realities about achieving social change.


Bill Horan interviews Damon Centola
April 2021
Damon discusses why he says successful social change is not about information but about norms, how people do not know what really causes them to change, how cultural norms cause resistance to change, and the myth of weak ties.

How Anomalies Drive Scientific Progress

Cody Kommers interviews Damon Centola
March 2021
Damon discusses his childhood growing up in an intentional community, the influence of his undergraduate curriculum in classics, how Heidegger changed his life, transitioning from philosophy and sociology, getting into network science at the perfect time, and building the academic ideas that became Change.

How to Handle the Face Mask/Vaccine Challenge 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
January 2021
Why people’s social networks are the key to defeating COVID-19.

Teachers Make a Difference 

Bob Greenberg interviews Damon Centola
January 2021
Damon Centola discusses his background and what he learned at each step of his path. 

Considering Network Interventions

Damon Centola
December 2020
Social policy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic must harness the strength of people’s support networks to curtail infection rates and prevent a severe economic downturn.

Why Social Media Makes Us More Polarized and How to Fix It 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
October 2020
Research shows it’s the influencers, not the networks themselves, that amplify differences between us.

Physician Networks and the Complex Contagion of Medical Treatment 

Damon Centola
January 2020
Peer networks can influence physicians’ decision-making and willingness to adopt new medical treatments through simple or complex contagion.

Changing Societal Behavior

Sandi Hunt & Sherryl Kuhlman interview Damon Centola
October 2019
Damon discusses his book “How Behavior Spreads”—a look into how changes in societal behavior occur. His findings offer insights for those looking to harness networks for social change.

Research: For Crowdsourcing to Work, Everyone Needs an Equal Voice

Joshua Becker and Edward “Ned” Smith
July 2019
New research finds that the wisdom of crowds is more robust than previously thought – it can even withstand the groupthink of similar-minded people.

Influential Networks 

Damon Centola
May 2019
While simple contagions spread efficiently from highly connected ‘influencers’, new research has revealed another kind of spreading process, that of complex contagions, which follows surprisingly different pathways to disperse.

The 25 Percent Tipping Point for Social Change 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
May 2019
New research on social norms shows how to reach critical mass.

The Truth About Behavioral Change 

Damon Centola
November 2018
The latest thinking on social networks explains why new technologies and innovative behaviors really spread. It’s not about “going viral.”

Which Is Better, Support or Competition? 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
November 2018
What kinds of social media networks are best for helping you to exercise?

What Can “Alice in Wonderland” Tell Us About Life Online? 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
November 2018
How pressure from “the Red Queen” can change social norms.

Social Learning and Political Polarization 

“network-dynamics-of-category-emergence-98x98"Damon Centola
November 2018
How social networks can create a wiser, more informed electorate.

How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions 

The Science podcast interviews Damon Centola
September 2018
Damon describes how societal behaviors are really propagated, revealing how networks can be exploited to effect social change.

How Minority Viewpoints Become Majority Ones 

Roni Dengler
June 2018
New study suggests the “tipping point” for change is when 25% agree.

Controlling public opinion: what the debate over ‘The Dress’ reveals 

Damon Centola
April 2015
Our research indicates that the emergence and polarization of public opinion may be explained as an unintended consequence of people’s influence over one another. 

Experimenting with Buddies 

Marco J. van der Leij
December 2011
Internet networks start to unravel the role of social networks in the spread of behavior in society.