From Individual Psychology to Cultural Trends: Virality and Abandonment in News and Names



Products, ideas, and behaviors often become popular, but what leads such cultural tastes to die out and become abandoned? And why are certain things more viral than others? This talk will combine two recent projects looking at how psychological processes can provide insight into social epidemics and trends. The first project uses 120 years of data on the popularity of first names to examine why popular things become unpopular. In particular, we examine the speed of adoption and how it may relate to eventual abandonment. The second project examines social transmission. People often share news and information, and social transmission drives a host of outcomes (e.g., social contagion and product sales), but relatively little is known about why people share certain things and not others. Using data on over 7,500 New York Times articles, we examine how psychological aspects of content relate to what makes the most emailed list.
Contact information:
Dr. S. Puntoni