Friday, March 05, 2010

Very Social Science: A Review of "Connected"

This is from a review of Connected, a book that's been out for 6 months and has already received quite a bit of notice. But this new review reminded me of my previous post about altruism.
College freshmen with depressed roommates become increasingly depressed themselves over a three-month period. Diners sitting next to heavy eaters end up eating more food. Homeowners with neighbors who garden wind up with better looking lawns.
So not only does altruism breed more altruism but apparently witnessing almost anything tends to make one more likely to act that way as well.

2 comments:

Sancha said...

Do the authors address whether there is a difference in response between watching an action and imitating it and watching a representation of that action (i.e seeing an act of altruism vs. watching a biopic about Mother Teresa or even some totally fictitious altruist)?

Blue said...

I don't think the issue was addressed, but I doubt it. The authors of "Connected" were more interested in connection networks than in what individuals saw.

But see later post that suggests that seeing any act tends to increase the likelihood of doing the act.