Who do you have sex with and why? Is happiness catching? Is wealth contagious? Can your friends make you fat? Why do you bother to vote? Does free will exist? Your friend's friend starts smoking, suddenly you find yourself reaching for a cigarette. But how can someone you'll never know make you fatter, happier and have more sex? This brilliantly original exploration of 'social contagion' examines the power of social networks to influence our behaviour. We like to think that we are largely in control of our day-to-day lives, yet most of what we do, from what we eat to who we sleep with, and even the way we feel, is significantly influenced by those around us - and those around them, and those around them. Our actions can change the behaviours, the beliefs, and even the basic health of people we've never met. In their illuminating account of the pervasive and often bizarre qualities of social networks, pre-eminent social scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explain why obesity is contagious, why the rich get richer, even how we find and choose our partners.
Intriguing and entertaining, with revelatory implications for everything from our notion of the individual to ideas about healthcare and social inequality 'Connected' will change the way you think about every aspect of your life.
Nicholas Christakis is a Harvard professor with joint appointments in Care Policy, Sociology and Medicine, who has been studying social networks for the last ten years. His work has been covered by numerous publications including the New York Times, Newsweek and Time magazine, which recently voted one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2009. James Fowler is a political scientist who specialises in the study of social networks, human cooperation and political participation. His projects on obesity and the genetic basis of political behaviour have been covered by media outlets including the Washington Post and the BBC.