How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
How do ideas spread? How does one person convince another and that person spread the word? Diffusion of ideas can be critically important for mass persuasion and is consequently of interest to marketers, politicians and more.
The idea of diffusion originated in 19th century European studies of cultural change, for example as summarized in Durkheim's (1897) summary of research into suicide epidemics.
In the 20th century the fascination of how people connect and spread ideas continued. For example Tarde (1903) described imitation, Pemberton (1936) further described the spread of ideas and Rogers (1962) brought the principle to wider attention, defining diffusion as:
"the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system"
In 1935 Zipf coined the term 'acteme', which was revised to 'meme' by Dawkins (1976).
Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Durkheim, E. (1897, 1952). Suicide: A Study in Sociology, Routledge, London
Pemberton, H. E. (1936) 'The Curve of Culture Diffusion Rate', American Sociological Review, 1 (4): 547-556
Rogers, E.M. (1962). Diffusion of Innovations. Glencoe: Free Press
Tarde, G. (1903, 1963). The Laws of Imitation, Peter Smith, Clouchester, MA.
Zipf, G. K. (1935, 1965). Psychobiology of Languages, The M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, MA.