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Experimental evidence for tipping points in social convention

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Science  08 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6393, pp. 1116-1119
DOI: 10.1126/science.aas8827

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Tipping points in social convention

Once a population has converged on a consensus, how can a group with a minority viewpoint overturn it? Theoretical models have emphasized tipping points, whereby a sufficiently large minority can change the societal norm. Centola et al. devised a system to study this in controlled experiments. Groups of people who had achieved a consensus about the name of a person shown in a picture were individually exposed to a confederate who promoted a different name. The only incentive was to coordinate. When the number of confederates was roughly 25% of the group, the opinion of the majority could be tipped to that of the minority.

Science, this issue p. 1116