Nicholas Christakis - Applied Data Science Inaugural talk, YINS, 17 Hillhouse Avenue

Monday, February 20, 2017 - 4:15pm to 5:30pm
Yale University
Social Network Experiments
Human beings choose their friends, and often their neighbors and co-workers, and we inherit our relatives; and each of the people to whom we are connected also does the same, such that, in the end, we assemble ourselves into large face-to-face social networks, with particular, discernible mathematical properties. Here, I explore how an understanding of human social network structure and function can be used to intervene in the world. I will review recent research describing two classes of interventions – involving both offline and online networks: (1) interventions that rewire the connections between people, and (2) interventions that manipulate social contagion. I will present a variety of experiments (involving thousands of subjects) in settings as diverse as fostering health behavior change in developing world villages, fostering cooperation in networked groups online, facilitating the diffusion of innovation or coordination in groups, and other examples. By taking account of people's structural embeddedness in social networks, and by understanding social influence, it is possible to intervene in social systems to enhance desirable population-level properties as diverse as health, wealth, cooperation, coordination, and learning.
Yale Institute for Network Science, 17 Hillhouse Avenue, 3rd floor