Recent findings from the Tipping Points project

Posted on March 17, 2014 by



cigaretteSpread of smoking behaviour in populations through multiple peer influence

Researchers from the Tipping Points project have developed a new modelling approach for understanding the spread of unhealthy behaviours through multiple peer influence, such as people’s tendency to follow social norms by imitating their peers or in response to peer pressure, using smoking as a case study. Peer influence is the effect on an individual’s behaviour through people they have social contact with, such as a friend or relative. The model is based on populations in North East England and shows that competing behaviours lead to discontinuous transitions in the overall number of smokers in a population.

The study, led by Dr John Bissell, Dr Camila Caiado and Professor Brian Straughan from Tipping Points, is of relevance to health practitioner communities and policy makers because it demonstrates how small changes in a population can lead to sudden shifts in behaviour that could continue in the long-term. According to the research, multiple peer influence has the greatest impact on whether people decide to take up smoking or not. Researchers found that potential smokers who had contact with current smokers were likely to increase the population of smokers overall. The model designed by researchers also accounts for former smokers who may have a potential relapse when coming into contact with current smokers.

Key Finding:

In modelling smoking behaviour, former smokers are most affected over time by peers who quit around them, but potential smokers respond mostly to contact with current smokers, which leads them to copy their behaviour.


Compartmental modelling of social dynamics with generalised peer incidence. Math. Models Methods Appl. Sci. 24, 719 (2014). DOI: 10.1142/S0218202513500656

Manufacturing management celebrity


Popular ‘management guru’ Clayton Christensen.

In the business world so-called ‘management gurus’ become celebrities by mastering their communication skills, especially the ways in which they present their ideas to an audience. Management ideas need to be sticky in order for them to gain traction with audiences. The management guru must be a master salesman in order to capture their audience’s attention and implant their ideas.

According to researchers, management gurus must excel in the delivery of their books and lectures in order for them to be successful overall. In the case of lectures, this is accomplished through rhetorical techniques, humour and storytelling, allowing the guru to ‘build a sense of cohesion and intimacy’, although the audience may not be affiliated with the core ideas and values of the guru. These communication techniques make them highly persuasive and make their audience more receptive to their message.

Key Finding:

It is not the content of the presentation that makes a guru successful, rather success hinges on the delivery of the message.


‘Manufacturing Management Celebrity’, Discover Society

‘Management gurus as celebrity consultants.’, in The Oxford handbook of management consulting. Oxford : Oxford University Press

About these ads