The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference [NOOK Book]

Overview

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think ...
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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

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Overview

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Why did crime in New York drop so suddenly in the mid-'90s? How does an unknown novelist end up a bestselling author? Why is teenage smoking out of control, when everyone knows smoking kills? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? Why did Paul Revere succeed with his famous warning?

Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has been studying trends like these for years and has written several articles for the magazine that have developed into his new book, The Tipping Point. According to Gladwell, the Tipping Point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a sick individual in a crowded store can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push start a fashion trend or cause the popularity of a new restaurant to take off overnight or cause crime or drug use to taper off. In The Tipping Point, Gladwell shows how very minor adjustments in products and ideas can make them more likely to become immensely popular. He reveals how easy it is to cause group behavior to tip in a desirable direction by making small changes in our immediate environment.

Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types that are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends, the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children's television, direct mail, and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious. He also visits a religiouscommune,a successful high-tech company, and one of the world's greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics.

This is a book that should be read by everyone in business, politics, marketing and advertising, as well as by anyone interested in trends, fashion, fads, policy making, and human behavior. In other words, all of us. (Emily Burg)

Chicago Tribune
...a fascinating account...valuable...
US Magazine
Anyone interested in fads should read The Tipping Point..."
Time Out New York
...brimming with new theories on the science of manipulation...
Seattle Times
...a terrifically rewarding read...
Business Week
...an imaginative...treatise that's likely...to generate some buzz...it's hard not to be persuaded by Gladwell's thesis. Not only does he assemble a fascinating mix of facts in support of his theory...but he also manages to weave everything into a cohesive explanation of human behavior. What's more, we appreciate the optimism of a theory that supports, as another pundit once called it, the power of one...there's little doubt that the material will keep you awake...
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
The Tipping Point is propelled by its author's voracious but always amiable curiosity...Gladwell has a knack for rendering complex theories in clear, elegant prose, and he makes a charismatic tour guide. As a result, the book's constant movement from one cultural realm to the next...never produces any literary motion sickness.
KLIATT
When it was first published in 2000, Malcolm Gladwell's book about social epidemics "tipped." It made the bestseller lists both here and abroad. It became a popular phenomenon. This is what The Tipping Point is all about. Gladwell's concept, the topic of sociologists since the 1970s, is that trends and ideas take off—reach the tipping point—for some reason, usually because of the influence of a small group or even one individual. He offers as his first example the resurgence in popularity among the cool people of Hush Puppies, the brushed-suede shoes that were down to sales of a mere 30,000 pairs a year. Suddenly in 1995 they became a hot property and they sold 430,000 pairs a year. The same phenomenon occurs with crimes, children's television (Sesame Street and Blue's Clues), smoking among the young, direct mail, and Paul Revere's famous ride. Gladwell says that the best way to think of these trends is to see them as epidemics; they spread like viruses do. And in that spread some people are more influential than others. He posits three rules: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. His explanations are persuasive. His ideas on smoking among youngsters and how to slow it should be required reading by government officials at all levels. In his new afterword, Gladwell touches on the AIDS epidemic, improving public schools in tough neighborhoods, the massacre at Columbine High School, and finding Mavens, those influential people who make things happen. Highly recommended for its clear exposition of important issues. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. ,
— Janet Julian
Hawthorne
Gladwell has a knack for rendering complex theories in clear, elegant prose, and he makes a charismatic tour guide.
The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
Alan Wolfe
The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, is a lively, timely and engaging study of fads... Gladwell, who made his career in journalism as a science writer, has a knack for explaining psychological experiments clearly; The Tipping Point is worth reading just for what it tells us about how we try to make sense out of the world.
The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
Why is it that fashion trends change the way we dress? Why do various TV shows, movies, and books become so popular? Malcolm Gladwell provides a diagram of our society, along with an analysis of the strategies people apply to influence and mold its direction. Gladwell describes the personality types that create trends and those that influence others by "spreading the word." History takes on a whole new perspective as he describes events of early America that specifically follow his theories of "selling the public on an idea" and "social epidemics." Feedback from market mavericks further substantiates Gladwell's viewpoints. B.J.P. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine [Published: AUG/ SEPT 01]
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759574731
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 8,266
  • File size: 703 KB

Meet the Author

Malcolm Gladwell is a former business and science writer at the Washington Post. He is currently a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Biography

At the start of the 21st century, a new form of narrative nonfiction emerged, blending science, sociology, and pop culture into a compulsively readable hybrid genre marked by originality, accessibility, and a breezy, anecdotal style. As much as any single writer, and perhaps more than most, journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell has helped to forge that genre.

Born in the U.K. and raised in rural Canada, Gladwell stumbled into journalism purely by accident. After college, he wanted to pursue a career in advertising; but when he was unable to find work in that field, he took a job with the conservative U.S. monthly The American Spectator. In 1987, he joined The Washington Post, where he reported on business and science for nearly a decade. Then, in 1996, Tina Brown hired him to work for The New Yorker. (Brown left the magazine in 1998. Gladwell is still on staff.)

Almost from the beginning, Gladwell's work for The New Yorker attracted attention. Of particular interest was a piece he wrote in June 1996 about a mysterious and dramatic drop in the New York City crime rate. Drawing its title -- and its argument -- from the field of epidemiology, "The Tipping Pont" described a single moment in time when the momentum for change becomes virtually unstoppable. The piece generated an enormous reader response, and Gladwell began to explore the applications of the principle to other sorts of changes -- ideas, behaviors, new products, etc. In 2000, he published a full-length book that reached a tipping point of its own and logged a spectacular 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

In subsequent books, Gladwell has delved into other thought-provoking topics, such as the role of snap judgments and intuition in decision making (Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking) and the qualities that set high achievers apart from the rest of us (Outliers: The Story of Success). Readers love these intriguing reads for their clear, accessible language and illustrations drawn from real life; but it is the business community, always anxious to spot the next big thing, that has recognized the relevance of Gladwell's ideas to sales, marketing, and public relations. As a result of his popularity with this group, he has become a much-in-demand public speaker.

Good To Know

  • Gladwell's English father is a civil engineer and his mother is a Jamaican-born psychotherapist.

  • Growing up in Canada at a time when the country was essentially a socialist nation, Gladwell was a self-professed right-wing kid. "Being a conservative was the kind of fun, radical thing to do," he told The New York Times. He notes that his politics have changed over the years.

  • When Gladwell decided to grow his formerly short and conservatively cut hair into an Afro, he began to receive special, unwanted attention (more speeding tickets, additional checks in airport security lines, etc.). These experiences got him thinking about how first impressions lead to snap judgments -- which inspired his bestseller Blink.

  • Starbucks' founder Howard Schultz publicly attributed his company's success to the tipping-point phenomenon.

  • In 2005, Time Magazine named Gladwell one of the 100 Most Influential People.

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        New York, NY
      1. Date of Birth:
        September 3, 1963
      2. Place of Birth:
        England, U.K.
      1. Education:
        University of Toronto, History degree, 1984

    Read an Excerpt



    Chapter One

    The Three Rules of Epidemics

    In the mid-1990s, the city of Baltimore was attacked by an epidemic of syphilis. In the space of a year, from 1995 to 1996, the number of children born with the disease increased by 500 percent. If you look at Baltimore's syphilis rates on a graph, the line runs straight for years and then, when it hits 1995, rises almost at a right angle.

    What caused Baltimore's syphilis problem to tip? According to the Centers for Disease Control, the problem was crack cocaine. Crack is known to cause a dramatic increase in the kind of risky sexual behavior that leads to the spread of things like HIV and syphilis. It brings far more people into poor areas to buy drugs, which then increases the likelihood that they will take an infection home with them to their own neighborhood. It changes the patterns of social connections between neighborhoods. Crack, the CDC said, was the little push that the syphilis problem needed to turn into a raging epidemic.

    John Zenilman of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, an expert on sexually transmitted diseases, has another explanation: the breakdown of medical services in the city's poorest neighborhoods. "In 1990-91, we had thirty-six thousand patient visits at the city's sexually transmitted disease clinics," Zenilman says. "Then the city decided to gradually cut back because of budgetary problems. The number of clinicians [medical personnel] went from seventeen to ten. The number of physicians went from three to essentially nobody. Patient visits dropped to twenty-one thousand. There also was a similar drop in the amount of field outreach staff.There was a lot of politics — things that used to happen, like computer upgrades, didn't happen. It was a worst-case scenario of city bureaucracy not functioning. They would run out of drugs."

    When there were 36,000 patient visits a year in the STD clinics of Baltimore's inner city, in other words, the disease was kept in equilibrium. At some point between 36,000 and 21,000 patient visits a year, according to Zenilman, the disease erupted. It began spilling out of the inner city, up the streets and highways that connect those neighborhoods to the rest of the city. Suddenly, people who might have been infectious for a week before getting treated were now going around infecting others for two or three or four weeks before they got cured. The breakdown in treatment made syphilis a much bigger issue than it had been before.

    There is a third theory, which belongs to John Potterat, one of the country's leading epidemiologists. His culprits are the physical changes in those years affecting East and West Baltimore, the heavily depressed neighborhoods on either side of Baltimore's downtown, where the syphilis problem was centered. In the mid-1990s, he points out, the city of Baltimore embarked on a highly publicized policy of dynamiting the old 1960s-style public housing high-rises in East and West Baltimore. Two of the most publicized demolitions — Lexington Terrace in West Baltimore and Lafayette Courts in East Baltimore — were huge projects, housing hundreds of families, that served as centers for crime and infectious disease. At the same time, people began to move out of the old row houses in East and West Baltimore, as those began to deteriorate as well.

    "It was absolutely striking," Potterat says, of the first time he toured East and West Baltimore. "Fifty percent of the row houses were boarded up, and there was also a process where they destroyed the projects. What happened was a kind of hollowing out. This fueled the diaspora. For years syphilis had been confined to a specific region of Baltimore, within highly confined sociosexual networks. The housing dislocation process served to move these people to other parts of Baltimore, and they took their syphilis and other behaviors with them."

    What is interesting about these three explanations is that none of them is at all dramatic. The CDC thought that crack was the problem. But it wasn't as if crack came to Baltimore for the first time in 1995. It had been there for years. What they were saying is that there was a subtle increase in the severity of the crack problem in the mid-1990s, and that change was enough to set off the syphilis epidemic. Zenilman, likewise, wasn't saying that the STD clinics in Baltimore were shut down. They were simply scaled back, the number of clinicians cut from seventeen to ten. Nor was Potterat saying that all Baltimore was hollowed out. All it took, he said, was the demolition of a handful of housing projects and the abandonment of homes in key downtown neighborhoods to send syphilis over the top. It takes only the smallest of changes to shatter an epidemic's equilibrium.

    The second, and perhaps more interesting, fact about these explanations is that all of them are describing a very different way of tipping an epidemic. The CDC is talking about the overall context for the disease — how the introduction and growth of an addictive drug can so change the environment of a city that it can cause a disease to tip. Zenilman is talking about the disease itself. When the clinics were cut back, syphilis was given a second life. It had been an acute infection. It was now a chronic infection. It had become a lingering problem that stayed around for weeks. Potterat, for his part, was focused on the people who were carrying syphilis. Syphilis, he was saying, was a disease carried by a certain kind of person in Baltimore — a very poor, probably drug-using, sexually active individual. If that kind of person was suddenly transported from his or her old neighborhood to a new one — to a new part of town, where syphilis had never been a problem before — the disease would have an opportunity to tip.

    There is more than one way to tip an epidemic, in other words. Epidemics are a function of the people who transmit infectious agents, the infectious agent itself, and the environment in which the infectious agent is operating. And when an epidemic tips, when it is jolted out of equilibrium, it tips because something has happened, some change has occurred in one (or two or three) of those areas. These three agents of change I call the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.


    1. When we say that a handful of East Village kids started the Hush Puppies epidemic, or that the scattering of the residents of a few housing projects was sufficient to start Baltimore's syphilis epidemic, what we are really saying is that in a given process or system some people matter more than others. This is not, on the face of it, a particularly radical notion. Economists often talk about the 80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the "work" will be done by 20 percent of the participants. In most societies, 20 percent of criminals commit 80 percent of crimes. Twenty percent of motorists cause 80 percent of all accidents. Twenty percent of beer drinkers drink 80 percent of all beer. When it comes to epidemics, though, this disproportionality becomes even more extreme: a tiny percentage of people do the majority of the work.

    Potterat, for example, once did an analysis of a gonorrhea epidemic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, looking at everyone who came to a public health clinic for treatment of the disease over the space of six months. He found that about half of all the cases came, essentially, from four neighborhoods representing about 6 percent of the geographic area of the city. Half of those in that 6 percent, in turn, were socializing in the same six bars. Potterat then interviewed 768 people in that tiny subgroup and found that 600 of them either didn't give gonorrhea to anyone else or gave it to only one other person. These people he called nontransmitters. The ones causing the epidemic to grow — the ones who were infecting two and three and four and five others with their disease — were the remaining 168. In other words, in all of the city of Colorado Springs — a town of well in excess of 100,000 people — the epidemic of gonorrhea tipped because of the activities of 168 people living in four small neighborhoods and basically frequenting the same six bars.

    Who were those 168 people? They aren't like you or me. They are people who go out every night, people who have vastly more sexual partners than the norm, people whose lives and behavior are well outside of the ordinary. In the mid-1990s, for example, in the pool halls and roller-skating rinks of East St. Louis, Missouri, there was a man named Darnell "Boss Man" McGee. He was big — over six feet — and charming, a talented skater, who wowed young girls with his exploits on the rink. His specialty was thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds. He bought them jewelry, took them for rides in his Cadillac, got them high on crack, and had sex with them. Between 1995 and 1997, when he was shot dead by an unknown assailant, he slept with at least 100 women and — it turned out later — infected at least 30 of them with HIV.

    In the same two-year period, fifteen hundred miles away, near Buffalo, New York, another man — a kind of Boss Man clone — worked the distressed downtown streets of Jamestown. His name was Nushawn Williams, although he also went by the names "Face," "Sly," and "Shyteek." Williams juggled dozens of girls, maintaining three or four different apartments around the city, and all the while supporting himself by smuggling drugs up from the Bronx. (As one epidemiologist familiar with the case told me flatly, "The man was a genius. If I could get away with what Williams did, I'd never have to work a day again in my life.") Williams, like Boss Man, was a charmer. He would buy his girlfriends roses, let them braid his long hair, and host all-night marijuana and malt liquor-fueled orgies at his apartments. "I slept with him three or four times in one night," one of his partners remembered. "Me and him, we used to party together all the time. . . . After Face had sex, his friends would do it too. One would walk out, the other would walk in." Williams is now in jail. He is known to have infected at least sixteen of his former girlfriends with the AIDS virus. And most famously, in the book And the Band Played On Randy Shilts discusses at length the so-called Patient Zero of AIDS, the French-Canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas, who claimed to have 2,500 sexual partners all over North America, and who was linked to at least 40 of the earliest cases of AIDS in California and New York. These are the kinds of people who make epidemics of disease tip.

    Social epidemics work in exactly the same way. They are also driven by the efforts of a handful of exceptional people. In this case, it's not sexual appetites that set them apart. It's things like how sociable they are, or how energetic or knowledgeable or influential among their peers. In the case of Hush Puppies, the great mystery is how those shoes went from something worn by a few fashion-forward downtown Manhattan hipsters to being sold in malls across the country. What was the connection between the East Village and Middle America? The Law of the Few says the answer is that one of these exceptional people found out about the trend, and through social connections and energy and enthusiasm and personality spread the word about Hush Puppies just as people like Gaetan Dugas and Nushawn Williams were able to spread HIV.


    2. In Baltimore, when the city's public clinics suffered cutbacks, the nature of the syphilis affecting the city's poor neighborhoods changed. It used to be an acute infection, something that most people could get treated fairly quickly before they had a chance to infect many others. But with the cutbacks, syphilis increasingly became a chronic disease, and the disease's carriers had three or four or five times longer to pass on their infection. Epidemics tip because of the extraordinary efforts of a few select carriers. But they also sometimes tip when something happens to transform the epidemic agent itself.

    This is a well-known principle in virology. The strains of flu that circulate at the beginning of each winter's flu epidemic are quite different from the strains of flu that circulate at the end. The most famous flu epidemic of all — the pandemic of 1918 — was first spotted in the spring of that year and was, relatively speaking, quite tame. But over the summer the virus underwent some strange transformation and over the next six months ended up killing between 20 and 40 million people worldwide. Nothing had changed in the way in which the virus was being spread. But the virus had suddenly become much more deadly.

    The Dutch AIDS researcher Jaap Goudsmit argues that this same kind of dramatic transformation happened with HIV. Goudsmit's work focuses on what is known as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, or PCP. All of us carry the bacterium in our bodies, probably since birth or immediately thereafter. In most of us it is harmless. Our immune systems keep it in check easily. But if something, such as HIV, wipes out our immune system, it becomes so uncontrollable that it can cause a deadly form of pneumonia. PCP is so common among AIDS patients, in fact, that it has come to be seen as an almost certain indication of the presence of the virus. What Goudsmit did was go back in the medical literature and look for cases of PCP, and what he found is quite chilling. Just after World War II, beginning in the Baltic port city of Danzig and spreading through central Europe, there was an epidemic of PCP that claimed the lives of thousands of small children.

    Goudsmit has analyzed one of the towns hit hardest by the PCP epidemic, the mining town of Heerlen in the Dutch province of Limburg. Heerlen had a training hospital for midwives called the Kweekschool voor Vroedvrouwen, a single unit of which — the so-called Swedish barrack — was used in the 1950s as a special ward for underweight or premature infants. Between June 1955 and July 1958, 81 infants in the Swedish barrack came down with PCP and 24 died. Goudsmit thinks that this was an early HIV epidemic, and that somehow the virus got into the hospital, and was spread from child to child by the then, apparently common, practice of using the same needles over and over again for blood transfusions or injections of antibiotics. He writes:

    Most likely at least one adult — probably a coal miner from Poland, Czechoslovakia, or Italy — brought the virus to Limburg. This one adult could have died from AIDS with little notice. . . . He could have transmitted the virus to his wife and offspring. His infected wife (or girlfriend) could have given birth in a Swedish barrack to a child who was HIV infected but seemingly healthy. Unsterilized needles and syringes could have spread the virus from child to child.

    The truly strange thing about this story, of course, is that not all of the children died. Only a third did. The others did what today would seem almost impossible. They defeated HIV, purged it from their bodies, and went on to live healthy lives. In other words, the strains of HIV that were circulating back in the 1950s were a lot different from the strains of HIV that circulate today. They were every bit as contagious. But they were weak enough that most people — even small children — were able to fight them off and survive them. The HIV epidemic tipped in the early 1980s, in short, not just because of the enormous changes in sexual behavior in the gay communities that made it possible for the virus to spread rapidly. It also tipped because HIV itself changed. For one reason or another, the virus became a lot deadlier. Once it infected you, you stayed infected. It stuck.

    This idea of the importance of stickiness in tipping has enormous implications for the way we regard social epidemics as well. We tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how to make messages more contagious — how to reach as many people as possible with our products or ideas. But the hard part of communication is often figuring out how to make sure a message doesn't go in one ear and out the other. Stickiness means that a message makes an impact. You can't get it out of your head. It sticks in your memory. When Winston filter-tip cigarettes were introduced in the spring of 1954, for example, the company came up with the slogan "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." At the time, the ungrammatical and somehow provocative use of "like" instead of "as" created a minor sensation. It was the kind of phrase that people talked about, like the famous Wendy's tag line from 1984 "Where's the beef?" In his history of the cigarette industry, Richard Kluger writes that the marketers at R. J. Reynolds, which sells Winston, were "delighted with the attention" and "made the offending slogan the lyric of a bouncy little jingle on television and radio, and wryly defended their syntax as a colloquialism rather than bad grammar." Within months of its introduction, on the strength of that catchy phrase, Winston tipped, racing past Parliament, Kent, and L&M into second place, behind Viceroy, in the American cigarette market. Within a few years, it was the bestselling brand in the country. To this day, if you say to most Americans "Winston tastes good," they can finish the phrase, "like a cigarette should." That's a classically sticky advertising line, and stickiness is a critical component in tipping. Unless you remember what I tell you, why would you ever change your behavior or buy my product or go to see my movie?

    The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much of an impact it makes.


    3. Every time someone in Baltimore comes to a public clinic for treatment of syphilis or gonorrhea, John Zenilman plugs his or her address into his computer, so that the case shows up as a little black star on a map of the city. It's rather like a medical version of the maps police departments put up on their walls, with pins marking where crimes have occurred. On Zenilman's map the neighborhoods of East and West Baltimore, on either side of the downtown core, tend to be thick with black stars. From those two spots, the cases radiate outward along the two central roadways that happen to cut through both neighborhoods. In the summer, when the incidence of sexually transmitted disease is highest, the clusters of black stars on the roads leading out of East and West Baltimore become thick with cases. The disease is on the move. But in the winter months, the map changes. When the weather turns cold, and the people of East and West Baltimore are much more likely to stay at home, away from the bars and clubs and street corners where sexual transactions are made, the stars in each neighborhood fade away.

    The seasonal effect on the number of cases is so strong that it is not hard to imagine that a long, hard winter in Baltimore could be enough to slow or lessen substantially — at least for the season — the growth of the syphilis epidemic.

    Epidemics, Zenilman's map demonstrates, are strongly influenced by their situation — by the circumstances and conditions and particulars of the environments in which they operate. This much is obvious. What is interesting, though, is how far this principle can be extended. It isn't just prosaic factors like the weather that influence behavior. Even the smallest and subtlest and most unexpected of factors can affect the way we act. One of the most infamous incidents in New York City history, for example, was the 1964 stabbing death of a young Queens woman by the name of Kitty Genovese. Genovese was chased by her assailant and attacked three times on the street, over the course of half an hour, as thirty-eight of her neighbors watched from their windows. During that time, however, none of the thirty-eight witnesses called the police. The case provoked rounds of self-recrimination. It became symbolic of the cold and dehumanizing effects of urban life. Abe Rosenthal, who would later become editor of the New York Times, wrote in a book about the case:

    Nobody can say why the thirty-eight did not lift the phone while Miss Genovese was being attacked, since they cannot say themselves. It can be assumed, however, that their apathy was indeed one of the big-city variety. It is almost a matter of psychological survival, if one is surrounded and pressed by millions of people, to prevent them from constantly impinging on you, and the only way to do this is to ignore them as often as possible. Indifference to one's neighbor and his troubles is a conditioned reflex in life in New York as it is in other big cities.

    This is the kind of environmental explanation that makes intuitive sense to us. The anonymity and alienation of big-city life makes people hard and unfeeling. The truth about Genovese, however, turns out to be a little more complicated — and more interesting. Two New York City psychologists — Bibb Latane of Columbia University and John Darley of New York University — subsequently conducted a series of studies to try to understand what they dubbed the "bystander problem." They staged emergencies of one kind or another in different situations in order to see who would come and help. What they found, surprisingly, was that the one factor above all else that predicted helping behavior was how many witnesses there were to the event.

    In one experiment, for example, Latane and Darley had a student alone in a room stage an epileptic fit. When there was just one person next door, listening, that person rushed to the student's aid 85 percent of the time. But when subjects thought that there were four others also overhearing the seizure, they came to the student's aid only 31 percent of the time. In another experiment, people who saw smoke seeping out from under a doorway would report it 75 percent of the time when they were on their own, but the incident would be reported only 38 percent of the time when they were in a group. When people are in a group, in other words, responsibility for acting is diffused. They assume that someone else will make the call, or they assume that because no one else is acting, the apparent problem — the seizure-like sounds from the other room, the smoke from the door — isn't really a problem. In the case of Kitty Genovese, then, social psychologists like Latane and Darley argue, the lesson is not that no one called despite the fact that thirty-eight people heard her scream; it's that no one called because thirty-eight people heard her scream. Ironically, had she been attacked on a lonely street with just one witness, she might have lived.

    The key to getting people to change their behavior, in other words, to care about their neighbor in distress, sometimes lies with the smallest details of their immediate situation. The Power of Context says that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem.


    4. The three rules of the Tipping Point — the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, the Power of Context — offer a way of making sense of epidemics. They provide us with direction for how to go about reaching a Tipping Point. The balance of this book will take these ideas and apply them to other puzzling situations and epidemics from the world around us. How do these three rules help us understand teenage smoking, for example, or the phenomenon of word of mouth, or crime, or the rise of a bestseller? The answers may surprise you.

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    Table of Contents

    Introduction 3
     
    1 The Three Rules of Epidemics 15
    2 The Law of the Few: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen 30
    3 The Stickiness Factor: Sesame Street, Blue's Clues, and the Educational Virus 89
    4 The Power of Context (Part One): Bernie Goetz and the Rise and Fall of New York City Crime 133
    5 The Power of Context (Part Two): The Magic Number One Hundred and Fifty 169
    6 Case Study: Rumors, Sneakers, and the Power of Translation 193
    7 Case Study: Suicide, Smoking, and the Search for the Unsticky Cigarette 216
    8 Conclusion: Focus, Test, and Believe 253
     
    Endnotes 260
    Acknowledgments 271
    Index 273
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 734 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 27, 2008

      I Also Recommend:

      Does not disappoint.

      The book is about the "tipping point", that is, that moment when an idea or social behaviour has reached a level where it "tips" and spreads like crazy. <BR/><BR/>The book makes sense about how these things happen by using three rules- The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. Taking three rules, then, the book uses them to explain seemingly puzzling epidemic situations in society such as teen smoking or bestsellers. <BR/><BR/>Fun and interesting, if this kind of topic appeals to you, you'll like the book- its well written and an easy read. Other books that might appeal to general interest readers include The Sixty-Second Motivator

      18 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 9, 2010

      The Tipping Point

      Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point, explores the phenomenon known as the tipping point. According to Gladwell the tipping point is the moment at which "an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a treshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire". In other words, the point when an idea, trend, or behavior becomes an sensation to the world. Gladwell researches the behaviors of fashion trends, crime rate, and best selling novels to explain how small, yet powerful changes can result in an tipping point.

      Gladwell compares the idea of the tipping point to an epidemic of the flu. A simple sneeze from a sick person can start a flu epidemic just as a word of mouth can make an restaurant a big success. Gladwell seperates his book into the three rules of epidemics. The law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context each explain how and why an idea, trend, or behavior results in an epidemic.

      Gladwell uses examples such as Paul Revere's midnight ride to support his ideas on epidemics. Malcolm Gladwell states that "Paul Revere's ride is perhaps the most famous historial example of a word-of-mouth epidemic". Gladwell continues by calling Paul Revere a connector, a person who is truly socially diverse. Revere was able contact an abundant amount of people because he was connected with a large amount of diverse people. According to Gladwell, the message itself has to be sticky enough to make people listen and respond. The message "the British are coming" was a sticky phrase that made the message itself important enough to respond to. Malcolm Gladwell's context law states at the enviroment at which a message is sent also makes an impact. Paul Revere sent his message in the evening because the majority of people are sleeping and when they are woken up by a noise they are more susceptible to listen.

      The Tipping Point is a brilliantly written book that will change your outlook on famous fashion trends, falling crime rates, and the success of best selling novels. Malcolm Gladwell uses interesting examples throughout to make his book an enjoyable read. By the end of this book Gladwell will make you believe that any immovable object can be tipped if it is pushed in the right place.

      8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 6, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      Although a catchy title, but the content is quite the opposite

      I bought the book upon the terrific description of the content by the publisher. It seemed very interesting how they described the sociological manipulation done by companies and governement. I started reading the book but from the first chapter, it seemed that the writer kept on repeating the same concept the same action over and over again. I put it down for a bit, started reading other chapters so I may be interested again but it didn't happen. The same boring descriptions, the same concepts, repetitious stories went on and on again without any analysis of the process. If there was research done, I didn't get the legistic of it and I definitely didn't get the writing tipping point. He didn't introduce any new ideas on how the manipulation of the society is done by the media, the elite few with money who pull the string at their whim....New concept? hardly! researached analysis? if there was one...poorly done.

      7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 2, 2010

      Intriguing explanation of epidemics

      This book was very intriguing in explaining the causes of fads and why things get popular. The examples talked about are really interesting like how Sesame Street came to be and what makes a sales person so successful. Gladwell uses examples to make his point fully comprehendible and interesting. He explains and analyzes studies of human behavior to conclude to several rules about the tipping point of products. It is a book worth reading! :D

      6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted August 22, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      Here's a tip...

      skip this book. I have heard others refer to this book and thought I would see if it had anything motivational or inspirational to offer. I was very disappointed. More or less it is a recap of a few specific companies and several government run systems in NYC that experienced some
      success, unexpectedly. It seems as if the author, Malcolm Gladwell, found some obscure connections that he some how patched together to support a theory he created that was at the root of their succes. I had to force myself to finish this book, just because I hate to to start something and not finish it. Hey, maybe I should write a book about that! Oh, wait a minute, isn' that what the author of The Secret did? haha

      5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 6, 2010

      A collection of the author's personal opinions on complex matters

      The book is merely a collection of the author's personal opinions on complex psychological and sociological subjects of which he does not appear to have mastery. In addition, the author references many inconclusive studies, or his own broad non-scientific observations in asserting conclusions that cannot possibly be proven. This is another of many recent texts that lack any useful substance from self-anointed psych gurus.

      4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 4, 2009

      a brief response

      First of all, let me just say that I had to read this book for an AP English Language class, and when I chose it I was expecting something different. Therefore, I was a little disappointed, and came to the conclusion that I would not have otherwise read this book.
      I don't regret reading it, though. It is interesting to learn about the different connections between people that we just normally don't think about. The various conclusions that Gladwell comes to make sense once discussed, and many examples are provided as support. His argument is thorough and easy to follow. It sparks thought; you will find yourself applying the ideas to your own life.
      I would mainly recommend this book to people aiming to be successful entreprenuers or those who are interested in business. If you are genuinely curious on why Hush Puppies became a fad, then go for it-- read this book. If you want to know if you are the kind of person who can effectively influence change among other people, read it (in this sense I was interested in how this relates to community organizing, and mobilizing around an idea based on the efforts of a few key players).
      If you want to read how epidemics are spread, read it.. it is interesting and useful knowledge today as the threat of swine flu looms over us.
      If you want to see how much effort and research goes into finding the most effective methods of brainwashing children via the television, you would be fascinated by this book (it wasnt the main point of the section, but it is kind of chilling...).
      So it really depends on what you are expecting to get out of this book. If you can find it at the library and have a rainy boring afternoon, pick it up, its a quick read.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 11, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      Make You Smarter

      There are some books you read that just make you feel smarter after reading them. This is certainly one of them! The concepts are thought provocking and well written. Malcolm uses examples and studies that relate to everyone. It's not just for students or bussiness people, its for EVERYONE!

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 1, 2005

      This book is the cure. . . for insomnia.

      Couldn't get more than 100 pages into it. Over used coincidences throughout the book on trends and fads- I get it- let's move on!! Could have been interesting if it was 20 pages long.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 17, 2005

      waste of time

      In a nutshell, this book is not worth your time . It's scatter brain, unsystematic, and backed up with pop psychology. The title, press praise, and introduction are promising but the book unravels after a couple dozen pages. With little structure or direction in this book, you skip from TV experiments with kids to crime fighting in New York. A good fifty pages is devoted to how Sesame Street was tested on kids. Yet another forty or so are devoted to how the New York crime wave ended 20 years ago. Then the last chapter is devoted to teen smoking and why it's popular. Intermingled are sketches of ideas that are 'sticky,' and people who are categorized as 'salesmen,' 'connectors' or 'mavens'. Apparently, these people, in some combination over time can cause tipping points. Gladwell spends most of his time talking about details of what led up to a tipping point, but then spends no time talking about the actual point of change. It just happens, like a landslide. In his example of Airwalk shoes, the story goes from the product being on a fringe market to a major brand thanks to a marketing campaign. Then the New York crime wave ends with the subway clean-up. It all sounds like great hind sight. Gladwell ignores failures, ideas, people, or things and didn't reach a tipping point. He doesn't address the history of tipping points or how other cultures may respond to different stimulus than our US society. Essentially, he does not examine the problem in a philosophical way - what makes good ideas spread. Lastly, it's annoying to see Gladwell capitalizing 'tipping point' in reference to an event, as if he managed to coin the phrase himself. Please, save yourself some money and don't buy this book.

      2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted January 24, 2013

      As much as I hate to give a book such a low rating, The Tipping

      As much as I hate to give a book such a low rating, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell sadly deserves it.  Being a student, when reading nonfiction, I prefer to be able to find a thesis written somewhere in the text to see the authors point and perspective.  Malcolm Gladwell's style of writing, rather than focusing on one major idea, or thesis, Gladwell stretches one idea across several chapters using many, and I use extreme emphasis on the word MANY, anecdotes.  In fact most of this entire book can be summarized as a large collection of anecdotes that Gladwell has compiled in an attempt to prove sociological behaviors from different ends of marketing.  Perhaps the reason I'm so sour over this book is that it's being taught in High School literature classes.  People wanting to read this book should definitely be wary of Gladwell's convoluted writing style, the long drawn out chapters, and numerous identical anecdotes.  For some it might be a decent read, but I would only recommend it to those who are taking introductory courses in sociology or some sort of marketing/business class.  *Rant Over* 

      1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 14, 2012

      It was a really interesting book to read. It talked about how i

      It was a really interesting book to read. It talked about how ideas/epidemics spread. The three types of people needed are Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen. There has to be a stickiness factor in the idea as well. A third point is that human beings are more sensitive to their environment than what was once thought- the power of context. It talks about the &ldquo;broken window theory&rdquo;- how a broken window can lead to more crime, and fixing it can decrease crime, and other interesting points of view

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 10, 2011

      really good- a must read, very educational

      In Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point many different topics are discussed and analyzed, trying to find solutions as to why things "tip" and what different factors are involved. From "Blues Clues", and Paul Revear's midnight ride to the decrease in crime in NYC and the cause of suicide in the islands of Micronesia, it is shown that the factors of stickiness, connectivity, context and salesmen qualities play a major part in the way different events tip and spread. One big theme in Gladwell's book that made it effective was the repetitive mentioning of Connectors, people who know a lot of other people, and can spread ideas through multiple communities, making ideas contagious. Adding to this theme Gladwell outlines the concept of "stickiness", illustrating people who hear about a new ideas remember them, and in some way do something about the situation. Throughout the whole book Gladwell has the great ability to draw the reader into simple concepts with examples and stories, resulting in the reader being able to recognizing themselves in the examples and stories and seeing where they would put themselves if they were in those situations, allowing them to think what they would do to change the situation at hand. While reading this book I was interested in the way Gladwell enhanced his theories with concrete examples and stories, making the book very effective in getting his point across. Although I cannot agree with all his points and solutions to some of the situations and theories, I thought this book was very well written and very educational, giving the reader many things to think about, allowing their brains to adapt to something new and synthesize the information. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone; it includes great topics of discussion making the book good for classes to read together and discuss the different theories together.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 15, 2010

      more from this reviewer

      Very repetitive

      I had heard all the hype about "The Tipping Point" from friends and colleagues and after struggling to get through it I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. The "Ah Ha!" moments were few and far between because of the repetitive nature of Gladwell's examples. It was almost to the point of beating a dead horse by the end of it.

      Ultimately, the book has some interesting points but they are just made too often and over and over again. Gladwell definitely did his homework, but I won't be picking up any more of his books. Quite disappointed.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 27, 2010

      The Tipping Point

      Malcolm Gladwell gracefully describes the ways in which a trend or fad becomes a ubiquitous social norm in The Tipping Point. His compelling discussions make comparisons to seemingly unrelated events, such as the spread of S.T.D.'s and Paul Revere's midnight ride, and reveal their inherent, universal similarities. His subject material is presented with humor and coherence, and can be appreciated by high school students and college professors alike. No matter what you expect to get from this book, whether it be required reading for a class or something to skim through before bed, you will not be disappointed by The Tipping Point.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 17, 2010

      The Tipping Point

      The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a really extraordinary novel that explores sociological studies and interesting occurrences in life. It shows the little, random and amazing things that happen and make a big difference. The book contains the three main ideas that drive the studies to seem so unusual; the Law of Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context. The Law of Few means that a couple of people have a more significant influence on things that happen than the rest of society. The Stickiness Factor is the concept that repetition is a very impactful strategy that causes people to remember things more easily. The Power of Context is how a little change in the circumstances of an environment can have an impact on the events that occur there. So when all of these things are studied and really paid attention to, it is bizarre how they apply to these theories and are important to society. When I began to read this book, I realized that it was different from anything I've ever read before. It opened my eyes to the fact that such little things really can make a huge impact on things. It was a unique perspective on sociological studies and unique occurrences that happen every day. " If you want to bring a fundamental change in people's belief and behavior. you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured." I thought that this was an insightful and thoughtful quote. It demonstrated the great advice that Gladwell brings to the novel. His writing style is very creative and particular. I thought he was a very good author to write about such a topic and brought a very interesting aspect and point of view to everything.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 3, 2010

      The Tipping point

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because of all of the little ways I connected to the "meat" of the story. For example, when Gladwell explained educating children through television rather then having television being a bad influence on the developmental learning of a child caught me by surprise. When he said "Sesame Street" was the first television program to educate children, I realized that when I was a young kid and used to watch that, how many "mini life lessons" were included in each and every episode. This novel really opened my eyes into all the information that can merely be obtained by just reading this book.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 2, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      The Tipping Point captures essence of society

      I had been vaguely attracted to Gladwell's work, particularly after reading a similarly engaging exploration of sociology, economy, and society in general (Freakonomics). I discovered only a couple of chapters in to The Tipping Point that Gladwell may very well be a pioneer in his thoughts regarding the spread of ideas. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered why some things become prominent in society while other ideas fizzle out.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted December 8, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Detailed

      Malcolm Gladwell makes it easy to understand the complexities that are responsible for the spread of ideas, trends, etc. After reading this book those complexities seem more like common sense. It's made clear that many of the details that we consider to be small are often the most important. His concepts are backed by entertaining true stories that will open your eyes to a new aspect of the world.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 9, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      The point of The Tipping Point

      Donchian Murray
      Period.1
      Nov-9-09
      Econ'
      Mr. Jimenez

      The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell, Pub. 1-7-2002, 304 Pg.

      Born September 3, 1963 in London, He studied at the University of Toronto and received his bachelor's degree in History in 1984 before moving to the U.S. to become a journalist. Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Sees.

      The point of Malcolm Gladwell's masterpiece The Tipping Point is to explain as clearly as possible the "magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." Malcolm Gladwell calls this the "Tipping Point" and explains how it governs epidemics that society relies upon for economic fuel.

      First off, The Tipping Point Is a composition of three hundred and four, one page long, factual vignettes infinitely secreting knowledge for the reader to absorb and process to use the rest of their life. Malcolm Gladwell analyzes a trend that he has noticed in the western world's economy. Gladwell describes the trend he has noticed as a "tipping point". Gladwell states,
      "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do." (The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell; Pg.7.)
      Throughout The Tipping Point, Gladwell explains his finding's using frequent examples that are easy to remember. He explains that crime can be massively spread and traced back to a single event or person that got the crime epidemic going. He explains how a fashion trend can spread like a Std. As he always does, Malcolm Gladwell concludes The Tipping Point with an enlightening thought. "In a world dominated by isolation and immunity, understanding these principles of word of mouth is more important than ever." (Pg. 280)

      "Undeniably compelling..Terrifically rewarding."
      - Claire Deberer, Seattle Times
      "A fascinating book that makes you sees the world in a different way."
      - Fortune

      1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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