Network Science Improving Health in Honduras (video)

Can network science be used to improve health more cost-effectively in the developing world? We believe that because people are connected, their health is connected. Can social networks be utilized to influence behavior and, more importantly, be leveraged to achieve positive outcomes? To study this concept, researchers in the Human Nature Lab are spearheading a public health research study in Honduras, trying to map the extent to which improvements in health behaviors can ripple through social connections. The goal of the project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to evaluate the effectiveness of using social network strategies to implement maternal and neonatal health interventions in rural settings. In the videos below (one short and one long) we discuss our driving motivations, our research design details, and our goals for the project. Please watch!

In a game of wealth, fat cats who don’t share keep winning

PBS Newshour: An online game asks players to share some of their wealth on faith that the others will reciprocate. But each player has the option of choosing not to share, amassing more and more wealth. In designing a game to test human behaviors that fuel economic inequality, Yale University researchers are finding that the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich. Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

Does the secret to social networking lie in the remote jungle?

The Human Nature Lab is conducting research in Honduras on social networks, trying to map the true extent to which one’s connectivity can influence behavior and, more importantly, be leveraged to achieve positive outcomes. This large scale project involving 160 villages in rural Honduras, with 40,000 people, is lead by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, and backed by the Gates Foundation. Read more: Does the secret to social networking lie in the remote jungle?

The Dangers of Visible Inequality

Many commentators have pointed to disturbances in Ferguson and elsewhere over the past year as proof that economic inequality leads to tensions and even violence. But new research out from the Human Nature Lab at the Yale Institute for Network Science suggests that it’s not the presence of inequality that causes problems, but rather the visibility of that inequality. Read more.

Click here to read the paper published in Nature.

Through the Wormhole

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman filmed a segment in the Human Nature Lab  for their episode, ‘Are we all bigots?’ Evolution has hard-wired us toward subconscious bias. This episode explores how one can overcome bigotry through exposure, self-awareness, flexible social networks and violent video games. The HNL is featured briefly in the clip below and throughout the full episode.


Nature, nurture, or network?

Your friends and family influence your drinking, sleep, weight, and happiness—more than you think. Our work demonstrating the contagious nature of everything from obesity to altruism has stirred up considerable debate in the research world. It has also suggested powerful new ways to intervene in networks—for instance, to speed the switch to generic drugs, or to slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Read more:

Charity is Contagious: How Corporate Philanthropy Spreads

Characteristics of our social networks ripple outward and affect us in extraordinary and unlikely ways. Our attitude towards charity is affected by the people who surround us. The more that philanthropy is ingrained within our social networks, the more it will ripple outward and spread.  It’s contagious. Read more:

Five Minutes with Nicholas A. Christakis: “Discovery is greatly facilitated by methodological innovation.”

Nicholas Christakis discusses his thoughts on the frontiers in interdisciplinary research, the need for social science departmental re-shuffles, and the radical changes shaping social science’s relevance today.

The London School of Economics and Political Science: The Impact Blog, October 14, 2014