Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

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Overview

Connected will forever change the way we look at one another — and at ourselves

- Happiness is contagious.

- Your future spouse is likely to be your friend's friend.

- Your friends' friends' friends can make you fat — or thin.

These are just a few of the startling findings of internationally renowned scientists Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler. In Connected, they ...

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Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

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Overview

Connected will forever change the way we look at one another — and at ourselves

- Happiness is contagious.

- Your future spouse is likely to be your friend's friend.

- Your friends' friends' friends can make you fat — or thin.

These are just a few of the startling findings of internationally renowned scientists Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler. In Connected, they present intriguing new evidence that our real-life social networks shape virtually every aspect of our lives. How we feel, whom we marry, whether we fall ill, how much money we make, and whether we vote — everything hinges on what others around us are doing, thinking, and feeling.

Connected shows that our world is governed by the Three Degrees Rule — we influence and are influenced by people up to three degrees removed from us, most of whom we do not even know. For example, your friend's friend's friend has more impact on your happiness than $5,000 in your pocket. Our social networks underlie financial scams, eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicide clusters, but also voter turnout, innovation, altruism, and "random" acts of kindness.

Provocative, insightful, and useful, Connected explains why emotions are contagious, how health behaviors spread, why the rich get richer, and much more. Overturning the notion of the primacy of the individual, Connected provides a revolutionary new paradigm — that, like schools of fish changing direction in unison, we are consciously and unconsciously led by the people around us..

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Internet age has provoked some quips that Andy Warhol's "in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes" has been superseded by "in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen people." At this point, few would deny the major significance of social networks, but perhaps those proliferating people connections have never been presented as vividly or as entertainingly as in this book. In Connected, versatile Harvard scientist Nicholas Christakis and University of California political science professor James Fowler make a compelling case that social networks hold powerful influence over our health, taste, wealth, happiness, beliefs, and even our weight. Never have contagions been so entertaining.
Scott Stossel
In their writing, [Christakis and Fowler] are endearingly excitable, ranging enthusiastically across science and culture to find gee-whiz insights and unexpected results that support their arguments.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Harvard professor and health care policy specialist Christakis (Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care) became interested in social connectivity when observing that the mortality rate of spouses spike after a partner passes away. Christakis sought out a collaboration with Fowler, a health systems and political scientist, and together they 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." Five basic rules describe the relationship between individuals and their networks-including mutual adaptation, the influence of friends and friends' friends, the network's "life of its own"-but the results 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. A thorough but popular take on a complex phenomenon, this volume offers an entertaining guide to the mechanics and importance of human networking. 13 b/w illustrations, 8-page color insert.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The New York Times
"[In a category of] works of brilliant originality that can stimulate and enlighten and can sometimes even change the way we understand the world."
SeedMagazine.com
"Engaging and insightful...sure-to-be a blockbuster...Connected succeeds in connecting with its audience."
New Scientist
"Illuminating...The authors excel at drawing out the devil in the detail. [Connected] has profound implications."
SmartMoney.com
"Intriguing."
MarieClaire.com
"The book has all sorts of interesting information about how our friends influence our lives, for better and for worse."
Chip Heath
"A God's-eye view of social relationships that may make you dizzy. Every business leader, teacher, and parent should see their life from this vantage."
Sudhir Venkatesh
"An old adage tells us, 'You can't chose your family.' After reading Connected, you will find that you can't choose many things in your life. Others choose them for you! Christakis and Fowler take a fresh look at an old idea: that who we know matters. Connected is a lively, well-written account of social networks and their power to shape our lives. Complicated ideas become easy to understand and the mysteries of science unfold in front of your eyes. The world becomes smaller and more meaningful after reading this engaging book."
Andrew Gelman
"Fascinating... the dozens of interconnected stories of research findings by Chriastkis and Fowler and others leave me eager to learn about the next wave of research in this area."
Dan Ariely
"What makes us human -- for good and bad -- is our social nature. Nowhere is this complex, wonderful, and sometimes dark part of us more clearly revealed than in Connected. In a social world exploding with new ways to interact, Connected is a user's guide for ourselves in the 21st century."
From the Publisher
"Christakis and Fowler have written the book on the exciting new science of social networks. With passion and precision, these two internationally renowned scientists expose the invisible webs that connect each of us to the other, and in so doing cast our lives here together in an astonishing new light. We think we are individuals who control our own fates, but as Christakis and Fowler demonstrate, we are merely cells in the nervous system of a much greater beast. If someone you barely know reads CONNECTED, it could change your life forever. How? Read it yourself and find out."— "The book has all sorts of interesting information about how our friends influence our lives, for better and for worse."—Daniel Gilbert, bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness

"[In a category of] works of brilliant originality that can stimulate and enlighten and can sometimes even change the way we understand the world."—The New York Times

"Groundbreaking...."—Kirkus

"An entertaining guide to the mechanics and importance of human networking."—Publishers Weekly

"Engaging and insightful...sure-to-be a blockbuster...Connected succeeds in connecting with its audience."—SeedMagazine.com

"Illuminating...The authors excel at drawing out the devil in the detail. [Connected] has profound implications."—New Scientist

"Intriguing."—SmartMoney.com

"Connected explores the startling intricacies of social networks."—O, The Oprah Magazine

"The book has all sorts of interesting information about how our friends influence our lives, for better and for worse."—MarieClaire.com

"Connected argues convincingly that it's not enough to understand how individuals behave. The book details examples of how individual behaviors affect other members of a social network."-ScienceNews.com

"This wonderful book by Christakis and Fowler could well be one of the most important works of the decade. In a clear and engaging way, the authors apply their creative and provocative findings on social networks to understanding not only our social relationships but also the forces that shape our world. Full of fascinating stories and examples, this book is essential in understanding our very nature. A must read."—Ed Diener, Joseph Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology University of Illinois and author of Happiness

"Fascinating... the dozens of interconnected stories of research findings by Chriastkis and Fowler and others leave me eager to learn about the next wave of research in this area."—Andrew Gelman, author of Red State, Blue State

"What makes us human — for good and bad — is our social nature. Nowhere is this complex, wonderful, and sometimes dark part of us more clearly revealed than in Connected. In a social world exploding with new ways to interact, Connected is a user's guide for ourselves in the 21st century."—Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics and author of Predictably Irrational

"A God's-eye view of social relationships that may make you dizzy. Every business leader, teacher, and parent should see their life from this vantage."—Chip Heath, author Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

"An old adage tells us, 'You can't chose your family.' After reading Connected, you will find that you can't choose many things in your life. Others choose them for you! Christakis and Fowler take a fresh look at an old idea: that who we know matters. Connected is a lively, well-written account of social networks and their power to shape our lives. Complicated ideas become easy to understand and the mysteries of science unfold in front of your eyes. The world becomes smaller and more meaningful after reading this engaging book."—Sudhir Venkatesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day

"From health and happiness to fads and financial markets, Christakis and Fowler take us on a dazzling tour of the world of social networks. And in showing how these networks matter in our individual lives, the authors also make the deeper point that "network thinking" is the key to understanding how all our lives fit together."-Duncan Watts, author of Six Degrees

Ed Diener
"This wonderful book by Christakis and Fowler could well be one of the most important works of the decade. In a clear and engaging way, the authors apply their creative and provocative findings on social networks to understanding not only our social relationships but also the forces that shape our world. Full of fascinating stories and examples, this book is essential in understanding our very nature. A must read."
The Oprah Magazine O
"Connected explores the startling intricacies of social networks."
Daniel Gilbert

"Christakis and Fowler have written the book on the exciting new science of social networks. With passion and precision, these two internationally renowned scientists expose the invisible webs that connect each of us to the other, and in so doing cast our lives here together in an astonishing new light. We think we are individuals who control our own fates, but as Christakis and Fowler demonstrate, we are merely cells in the nervous system of a much greater beast. If someone you barely know reads CONNECTED, it could change your life forever. How? Read it yourself and find out."-- "The book has all sorts of interesting information about how our friends influence our lives, for better and for worse."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743579100
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 9 Cds
  • Product dimensions: 5.04 (w) x 6.02 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, is a professor at Harvard University with joint appointments in the Departments of Health Care Policy, Sociology, and Medicine, and in 2009 was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. James H. Fowler, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, in the Department of Political Science and The Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems, and was named one of the "most inspiring scientists" by the San Diego Science Festival. Christakis and Fowler's research has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Today, and The Colbert Report, and on the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    It's All About Your Network

    The authors (one an M.D. and Ph.D. and the other a professor of political science) do research on the topology of social networks and they knowledgeably survey the field. They conclude that persons up to three degrees away from us have the most impact on our lives. Surprisingly, it is very often the people exactly three degrees away--strangers even--who have the most detectable impact and not people closer. One such area is our likelihood of being obese! Their examples cover a wide range of domains which makes the validity and applicability of their case even stronger. Their findings have practical impacts on how we build our networks. We should do so more explicitly, I suppose. Of course, if we do not know some of our third degree neighbors in the real or virtual world then it behooves us to locate them to learn about them. I don't know how easy it would be to divorce yourself from 3rd degree neighbors. Nor do the authors talk about differences in impact when we know how our 3rd neighbors might be affecting us vs. when we are totally ignorant. As in all social sciences such knowledge of others affects our perceptions and how we play the game and is what makes analysis of human and social behavior more complex than the physical world.

    Overall, the book is a fascinating read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    People that you don't even know can make an impact on your life. Sometimes it's a good thing but it can also be toxic. If you are interested in finding out how the slightest thing that someone else does can change you, I suggest you read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    A different way to look at the people who surround you

    “Connected” is a great book to learn what social networks are all about. I chose to read this book as part of an assignment for my English class and upon hearing a brief description from my teacher; it sparked an interest for me. It sounded fascinating to learn how this type of connection affects our lives. This book really helped me to understand and clarify the meaning of a social network. The idea that a social network not only applies to the internet but any type of connection you may have with others. All you need are people and something that connects them; whether it is their related, their co-workers, or even students who go to the same school. Social networks are everywhere and they define the meaning of “it’s a small world.” Instead of simply stating connections the authors, Dr. Christakis and Dr. Fowler, enforce them with research and statistics as well as real world examples and applications. They discuss how our connections to those in our own networks influence how we feel, how we dress, how we compare ourselves to others, even the desire to vote or who we vote for. The first chapter of the book lays down the fundamental basics of a network and how they work. This makes the rest of the chapters, filled with different scenarios, much easier to follow. If you’re truly interested in social networks and how they impact society this is the book for you. Some may enjoy the whole book, while some, like me prefer to read the sections that are the most relatable and applicable to them personally. Overall, “Connected” lets its readers become more aware of their own social networks and how they influence and are influenced by them. Many people don’t realize that we are all connected in some way, you just have to pay attention; this book shows you what to look for. I would recommend the book to those who have an interest in social networks.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Fascinating Topic; Vague Execution

    There is truth hidden between the pages of Christakis and Fowler's "Connected," but though true, these "discoveries" are far from anything new.

    Connected explores the way our social networks help influence us to feel or act in certain ways. For example, we can understand that if one's best friend begins to eat more, we in turn will eat more as well due to the sheer amount of time we share with him or her. The authors of this work, however, spend 10-15+ pages discussing this issue that probably could be summed up sufficiently in five sentences.

    Over-all, "connected" is not terrible, but it is not earth-shattering either. I would suggest reading it for the few sections that interest you -- keep in mind that in many cases (because both of the authors are male, therefore the male mind is what they understand best) the book can feel very sexist.

    In summary: not a terrible book, but is rather one I would recommend picking up at the library or used book store. There are more intelligent (for lack of a better word) psychology books on the shelves that are better deserving of your top dollar.

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  • Posted June 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Smart look at social networks

    The raise of the internet has precipitated the increase of public's interest in networks and many books have come out in recent years that explore this new fascination. Most of these books, however, focus on some very trite and visible aspect of the web networks, and don't delve deeper into the more subtle and nonobvious properties of networks. In the light of that the strength of "Connected" is that it heavily relies on well established scientific research and presents it in an accessible fashion that still does full justice to the topic. Both authors are themselves prominent researchers in the field, and this fact helps with the choice and presentation of topics. The particular focus on social networks is very timely in the light of recent explosion of online social networks. However, social networks have been around for a very long time. In fact, there have been some evolutionary theories that suggest that our rise as a species has been to a large extent spurred by the need to manage large social networks.

    The book provides many interesting and nontrivial insights into what sorts of social networks are most beneficial in certain circumstances, and which ones on the other hand can have the most deleterious effects, such as in cases of spreading of diseases. One of the more pleasant aspects of this book has been the more positive attitude towards the role of religion in society that is not simplistic and provides us with some useful new insights and ways of looking at religion. For instance, from the purely social-networking point of view God can be viewed as a node in a network that is equally distant from all other nodes - individual believers in this case. This provides us with a useful new paradigm, and it would be interesting to see if other social researchers would employ it in their investigations and analyses of religion in the upcoming years.

    If you are looking for a well-researched and accessible book on social networks, this is probably the best one that has been on the market thus far.

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  • Posted January 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    very interesting

    quite interesting based on the researched provided in this book. I will be more aware of my 'network' now

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