Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How they Shape Our Lives
It is customary to think about fashions in things like clothes or music as spreading in a social network. But all kinds of things, many of them quite unexpected, flow through social networks, and this process obeys certain rules. Dr. Christakis has become internationally renowned for his research on how our real-life, face-to-face social networks drive and shape aspects of our lives that we would never suspect.
In his book Connected, he describes the results of this groundbreaking research, unlocking a revolutionary new understanding of the sway that we have over one another through our connections. He outlines the fundamental rules governing the formation and operation of social networks and describes the myriad ways that they help to shape who we are and what we do.
Dr. Christakis specializes in the impact our social networks have on our attitudes, behaviors, and wellbeing, and has analyzed networks ranging in size from 30 to 3,000,000 people, over periods of time as long as 30 years.
Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a social scientist and physician who conducts research in the area of biosocial science, investigating the biological predicates and consequences of social phenomena. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, where he is appointed as the Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science, and he is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. As of July 2015, he also serves as the Master of Silliman College at Yale.
Dr. Christakis’ lab is focused on the relationship between social networks and well-being. This research engages two types of phenomena: the social, mathematical, and biological rules governing how social networks form (“connection”), and the biological and social implications of how they operate to influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (“contagion”). Ongoing investigations in the lab explore the genetic bases for human social behaviors and the application of social network principles to change population-level behavior related to health, cooperation, and economic development.
Along with his long-time collaborator, James H. Fowler, Dr. Christakis had authored a book on social networks, published in 2009, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. This book has been translated into nearly 20 foreign languages, and it has been widely reviewed.
Dr. Christakis received his BS from Yale University in 1984, his MD from Harvard Medical School and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1989, and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006 and was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010.
He began his career at the University of Chicago in 1995, where he was appointed as a Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Medicine. He moved his lab to Harvard University in 2001, where he was again appointed as a Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Medicine. While at Harvard, he also served as the Master of Pforzheimer House in Harvard College. In 2013, he moved his lab to Yale University.
Dr. Christakis' past work was focused on topics related to end-of-life care, such as hospice care, widowhood and caregiver burden, ICU decision-making, and the role of prognostication in medicine (about which he has written three books, including clinical textbooks).
In 2009, Christakis was named by Time magazine to their annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2009 and in 2010, he was listed by Foreign Policy magazine in their annual list of Top 100 Global Thinkers.