How many does it take to tip the scales?
25% of a group according to this study published in Science journal.
“A new study finds that when 25 percent of people in a group adopt a new social norm, it creates a tipping point where the entire group follows suit. This shows the direct causal effect of the size of a committed minority on its capacity to create social change.”
And this is encouraging and a key reason I do my blog:
“While shifting people’s underlying beliefs can be challenging, Centola’s results offer new evidence that a committed minority can change what behaviors are seen as socially acceptable, potentially leading to pro-social outcomes like reduced energy consumption, less sexual harassment in the workplace, and improved exercise habits.”
That’s both encouraging and frightening.
Like so many things, this sort of systems dynamics knowledge is a two-edged blade. The shift when that one person joins the 25% reminds me of other sorts of ‘last straws’ and ‘flaps of a wing’ that trigger system-wide phase shifts. I think we would have to consider the dynamics of complex systems approaching decoherence to get a better understanding of this phenomenon in different contexts.