In recent years, much research has been done to find out how people influence each other.The rule of the three degrees of influence appeared after their results. This is a very interesting theory that makes us pay attention to the consequences of what we say and do.
The theory of the six degrees of separation existed before that which interests us today.She asserted that each person is separated by only six degrees from the great figures of humanity. In other words, each of us knows someone, who in turn knows someone who knows someone … And so on, six times, until we get to someone who knows Donald Trump.
"Even the most insignificant people exert some influence over the world."
-Louisa May Alcott-
The rule of three degrees of influence is similar. It operates however in a different way and has much more decisive effects on our lives.It was formulated by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler in 2010. According to them, even if we are far from others, we are never an island.
The rule ofthree degrees of influence
According to Christakis and Fowler, the rule of the three degrees of influence can be expressed in this way:what we say and think influences the thinking and behavior of our friends (first degree), friends of our friends (second degree) and friends of the friends of our friends (third degree).
But how did they come to such a conclusion? In 2007,these researchers were interested in a study on cardiovascular disease, which began in 1948.This study was being conducted in the city of Framingham, USA. Two-thirds of the adult inhabitants participated, and then their children and grandchildren joined the project.
The study required each participant to make a list of relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues.Many of these contacts were already involved in the experiment as it was a small town. These data allowed to establish a network of relations between the participants.
Findings of researchers
After defining the relationships between those participating in the study, it was established that 50,000 links existed between all participants. From there,the researchers began to collect data on the style and quality of life of the participants.They wanted to know if the changes in one of the members of this social network had an influence on the other members.
One of the topics that was covered in this study was that of obesity. Christakis and Fowlerwanted to determine if, for example, the fact that someone became obese had an influence on the social network of the person.Others would they become obese? The results were surprising.
They managed to determine that if someone becomes obese, that person's friends have a 45% chance of becoming obese in turn.Friends of these friends would see this probability drop to 20%. And friends of friends of friends would present this risk but at 10%. Beyond the third degree, no influence had been noticed. And this is how the rule of the three degrees of influence was established.
Physical and mental aspects
The researchers concluded that what happened with obesity also occurred with other things like smoking. The rule of three degrees of influence was also realized. Even in cases opposed to those of obesity and smoking.If someone lost weight in this social network or if someone quit smoking, an influence was exerted on the behavior of others.
Christakis and Fowler, as well as other researchers,were able to verify that all this applied to attitudes and emotions as well.For example, people who are friends with people who feel lonely tend to feel lonely too. A similar thing happens with happiness levels, cooperative behaviors, alcohol consumption and almost all behaviors and attitudes.
Researchers have also discovered that strangely, the big figures in the show do not influence people's behavior.If a celebrity decides to go on a diet, it will not affect his fans. On the other hand, if it is a friend who does it, the incidence is very visible.
What is the conclusion of all this?That we are not islands. Everything we say and do has, one way or another, an impact on others.If we want a change, the best way to achieve it is by starting with ourselves. Imperceptibly, it will begin to spread and may even lead to the big changes that so many people want.