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How Ideas Spread

Gain insight into the fascinating world of viral trends and your own decision-making behaviors with this course taught by a best-selling author and professor.
How Ideas Spread is rated 3.7 out of 5 by 31.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very timely and useful to us! Passed it on to a young friend who is a Marketing & Communications major. She's very excited about how it will help her progress in her chosen fields! I have a degree and 50 years of experience in management (and training, marketing, etc.).
Date published: 2022-10-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good for what it covered The instructor is obviously enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his topic. The course in general had a much heavier focus on marketing and sales than I expected. The psychology behind how people get information, and how they make decisions, was fascinating. I would be interested in seeing a course that delved more deeply into that and offered insights about more profound ideas such as beliefs about science, religion, and politics.
Date published: 2021-11-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Limit the length. 12 half hour lectures, I.e., 6 hours in total is about the maximum that can and should be spent on any topic. Few speakers can sustain listeners’ interest even for 6 hours and my experience of about 60 courses shows that after 12 lectures the speaker is hard pressed to go on talking and I am almost always wanting to throw in the towel! Jeffrey Fessel.
Date published: 2021-07-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Subject The information was good and the professors presentation style was ok.
Date published: 2021-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Got an Idea how Ideas spread This course was presented and narrated well stories. Great Job.
Date published: 2020-10-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I was a bit disappointed I have to limit my review to the first two lectures. It seemed to be much more basic than I expected. I have no training outside of this course. I hoped to understand of "how ideas spread". But after two lectures I felt like he was telling me things most people already know. Also, as someone who spends a lot of time thinking about and doing presentations, it was extremely repetitive. The lecture is 30ish minutes long but very often the same sentence or question is repeated three times in different ways. Perhaps I am more time sensitive than others but I really wanted him to get on with answering the question he raises.
Date published: 2020-10-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Grating In found the lecturer’s style patronizing and his examples annoying. I am interested in this content but will need to look elsewhere to learn about it. Maybe Malcolm Gladwell.
Date published: 2020-07-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty basic information, but a good presentation I have never taken a course in marketing, so I’d easily classify myself as a novice in this area. However, I found my mind constantly wandering away from the lectures. Perhaps part of the reason is that this isn’t an area I am necessarily that interested in, but I think the bigger problem is that I heard much of it before or have easily figured out on my own. I have taken quite a bit of neurology and behavioral type courses, so that is probably a pretty big source of my previous knowledge. I am sure there are quite a few articles I read over the years that also covered some of the material. In the end, I have to come to the conclusion that this is a very high level, introductory course in marketing. The professor does a fine job at presenting the material, using examples from recent history to drive points home. It is only 12 lectures, making it pretty easy to get through quickly. So, if you are looking into a good introduction to marketing, to perhaps test the waters to see if you would be interested in the field, this would be a good place to start. If you have no idea how marketing works, or want to find out how people manipulate you (wink, wink), this would be good for you. If you are looking for more complex marketing methods or trying to gain insight on how your brain responds to the marketing world, I would say this course doesn’t deliver.
Date published: 2019-04-09
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Gain insight into the fascinating world of viral trends and your own decision-making behaviors with a New York Times best-selling author, award-winning professor, and sought-after consultant of the Fortune 500.


Jonah Berger

Ideas spread from person to person, but how far they go depends on the pattern of connections between people.


University of Pennsylvania

Jonah Berger is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a B.A. in Human Judgment and Decision Making from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has served as a visiting faculty member at Duke University and Cornell University.

The recipient of numerous awards for teaching and research, Professor Berger received Wharton's MBA Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award and won their "Iron Prof" faculty competition for outstanding research. In recognition of his research on social dynamics-which mixes psychology, sociology, marketing, and economics to understand why products, ideas, and behaviors become popular-Mr. Berger has been named one of the top five most productive researchers in marketing by the American Marketing Association and received early career awards from both the Association for Consumer Research and the Society for Consumer Psychology.

Professor Berger is the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, which appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and has been translated into almost 30 languages. He also has published dozens of articles in top-tier academic journals and has consulted for a variety of Fortune 500 companies.

By This Professor

How Ideas Spread
How Ideas Spread


Social Epidemics-Why Things Catch On

01: Social Epidemics-Why Things Catch On

What leads products, ideas, and behaviors to become popular? What causes them to die out? The answer lies in the science of how ideas spread, which you'll begin to examine with the story behind Livestrong bracelets-one of the most notable social epidemics of our time.

35 min
The Basics of Consumer Psychology

02: The Basics of Consumer Psychology

Why can seeing something more frequently make you like it more? Find out here, as you look at consumer psychology and the way we naturally process information. Understand what happens from the moment people are exposed to information and begin to develop perceptions, and learn how these basic cognitive processes influence what eventually catches on.

30 min
The Impact of Triggers on Consumer Choice

03: The Impact of Triggers on Consumer Choice

Why might voting in a church versus a school change how you cast your ballot? Why would hearing French music at the grocery store make you more likely to buy French wine? Explore the phenomenon of triggers, from how they're defined to how they influence what we like, what we buy, and top-of-mind awareness.

27 min
Simple Rules to Make Ideas Stick

04: Simple Rules to Make Ideas Stick

Why do some things stick in memory while other ideas are quickly forgotten? Find out here, as you learn how ideas that fit with the four key principles of human memory-simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, and credibility-tend to be "stickier" or more memorable.

28 min
The Social Influence of Conformity

05: The Social Influence of Conformity

In the first of several lectures related to social influence, you'll consider the phenomenon of conformity and its role in why ideas spread. You'll learn why bartenders seed the tip jar, when people actually prefer waiting in line, and why conformity compels us to follow others even when we know they're wrong.

31 min
The Social Influence of Divergence

06: The Social Influence of Divergence

Social influence is like a magnet-it can attract or repel. As you explore the notion of divergence and the meaning of consumption, discover when and why people avoid following the crowd and how anti-conformity has caused once-popular cars, designer bags, and other products to fall out of favor with their original audience.

30 min
Word of Mouth-Powerful and Persuasive

07: Word of Mouth-Powerful and Persuasive

More than 10 times as effective as company-generated communications, word of mouth is a powerful tool-and it's becoming more so each day. Examine the influence of word of mouth, how it differs from traditional advertising, and the role that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter play in shaping communication.

28 min
The Social Currency of Shared Ideas

08: The Social Currency of Shared Ideas

From cat videos to New York Times science articles, some online content goes viral while the bulk of it never gets more than 10 views. Some products get lots of word of mouth activity, while others are never discussed. Discover the six key drivers of social transmission that lead products, ideas, and behaviors to generate buzz.

32 min
Messages That Go Viral

09: Messages That Go Viral

Wrap up the section on social influence by looking at the three remaining drivers of social transmission- stories, practical value, and making the private public-in the context of intriguing case studies. Learn about the failure of the "Just Say No" campaign, the success of a humble corn-husking video, and some shrewd design decisions by Apple.

30 min
Social Networks-Channels of Influence

10: Social Networks-Channels of Influence

Could a person you barely know affect your behavior? Consider this question as you begin to explore the channels through which information and influence spread. Learn about different types of social ties and how these ties impact what people share, the jobs people get, and life in general.

29 min
Social Influencers-Myths and Science

11: Social Influencers-Myths and Science

Are well-connected people or "influencers" the catalysts for ideas and products catching on? Examine this social-epidemic theory, the science behind how it does-or doesn't-work, how likely it is to be true, and whether companies who pay reality TV star Kim Kardashian $10,000 per Tweet will see a return on their investment.

27 min
Tracking Results-Big Data, Little Data

12: Tracking Results-Big Data, Little Data

Conclude the course with a thought-provoking discussion of Big Data. Learn how Google tries to predict everything from flu outbreaks to retail and home sales, why companies need to monitor social media chatter, and whether our addiction to analytics might be leading us astray. Also, consider the rise of Little Data and the effects of measuring and tracking the minutiae of our everyday lives.

27 min