The Three Rules of Epidemics

TheThree Rulesof Epidemics

TheThree Rulesof Epidemics

MalcolmGladwell usedtheexampleof thespreadof syphilis in Baltimore in 1995 and1996 toexplainthethree rulesorprinciples ofepidemics,whichincludethestickinessfactors,lawof thefew,andthepowerof context.Thelawof thefewholdsthatthesuccessof a givensocialepidemicdepends on theparticipationorinvolvementof individualswith specialsocialgifts(Gladwell, 2000). Thisisalsoreferredto as theruleof 80 / 20 where20 % of participantsare expectedto do80 % of thework.Participantsmay includeconnectors with a habitof makingintroductions,Mavenswhoserveas sourcesof newinformation,andsalespeoplewhoserveas persuaders in thesociety.Theconcertedeffortsof thethree participantsdeterminetheprogressof epidemics.

Stickinessfactoris thesecondprincipleof theepidemic,which holdsthatthespreadof epidemicsdepends on therateat which themembersof thesocietyretaintheinformationtheyreceivein their mind.Gladwell(2000) holdsthatcommunicationplaysa significantrolein theprocessof controllingepidemics,andtheseepidemicsare likelyto spreadmorein a societythat receiveinformationin one earandthatinformationgetsoutthrough theear(Gladwell,2000).

Thethirdrule,thepowerof context,holdsthatthebehaviorof humanbeingsis sensitiveandeasilyinfluencedby thesurroundings. Epidemics(suchas syphilis) are sensitiveto thecircumstancesandconditionsof placesandtimesthattheyoccur(Gladwell, 2000). Aslightchangein thesurroundings can resultin a tip,capsize,orslowdown theprogressof thesociety.In conclusion,theepidemicsare influencedby stickyideas,therightmix of people,andthecontext.

References

Gladwell,M. (2000). Thetipping point: How little things can make a big difference.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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