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Experimental evidence for tipping points in social convention

Centola, D., Becker, J., Brackbill, D. and Baronchelli, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-0255-0829 (2018). Experimental evidence for tipping points in social convention. Science, 360(6393), pp. 1116-1119. doi: 10.1126/science.aas8827

Abstract

Theoretical models of critical mass have shown how minority groups can initiate social change dynamics in the emergence of new social conventions. Here we study an artificial system of social conventions in which human subjects interact to establish a new coordination equilibrium. The findings provide direct empirical demonstration of the existence of a tipping point in the dynamics of changing social conventions. When minority groups reached the critical mass –that is, the critical group size for initiating social change –they were consistently able to overturn the established behavior. The size of the required critical mass is expected to vary based on theoretically identifiable features of a social setting. Our results show that the theoretically predicted dynamics of critical mass do in fact emerge as expected within an empirical system of social coordination.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the AAAS for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Science on Volume 360 and 08/06/2018, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aas8827.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Departments: School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering > Mathematics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/20031
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