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.”

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Mark H
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Mark H

That’s both encouraging and frightening.

Mark H
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Mark H

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.