In recent years, many important studies have been conducted that focus on how people are affected. The three degrees of impact theory come from one of them. This is a very interesting theory that encourages us to pay attention to what impact what we say and do has on others.
Some time ago, the theory of six distinguishing steps was born. According to it, each person was separated from the great figures of mankind by only six degrees. In other words, each of us knows someone who knows someone who knows someone else who knows Donald Trump.
The three degrees of influence theory are quite similar, but its effects are more striking in our lives. This theory was developed by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler in 2010. It shows that no matter how different we are from others, we are never islands.
Three degrees of impact theory
According to Christakis and Fowler, what we say and do affects the thoughts and behaviors of our friends (first degree), the thoughts and behaviors of our friends (second degree), and the thoughts and behaviors of our friends of friends (third degree).
The three degrees of impact theory talk about how our actions affect other people.
How did they come to this conclusion? In 2007, these researchers participated in a study on cardiovascular disease that had begun in 1948. This study was conducted in the city of Framingham in the United States. Two-thirds of the adult residents participated in it and then also their children and grandchildren.
Each participant had to make a list of their relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Many of these people were also involved in the study because the town was very small. With this information, they were able to make a network between the participants.
After completing the study, 50,000 links were identified among the participants. Researchers began to combine data related to participants ’style and quality of life. They wanted to know if the changes in one member of this network affected the other members in any way.
One of the things involved in the study was obesity. Christakis and Fowler had decided to find out, for example, that if someone in the network gained weight, did it affect others in the network so that they also gained weight. The results were amazing.
They were able to determine that if a person was gaining weight, his or her friends had a 45 percent chance of gaining weight. Friends of their friends, in turn, would have a 20 percent risk. And therefore, friends of friends of friends would have a 10 percent risk. No effect was observed after the third degree. Thus they established the three degrees of influence theory.
Mental and physical aspects
In conclusion, the researchers found that the behavior of others, such as smoking, also had the same effect as obesity. The three degrees of the effect rule could also be applied in that case. The opposite effect can also occur in both cases (obesity and smoking). If a person on this social network lost weight or quit smoking, it also affected other people’s behavior.
Both Christakis and Fowler and other researchers were able to show that this also applies to attitudes and emotions. For example, those who are friends with lonely people also feel lonely. Something like this also happens in terms of happiness, co-operative behavior, alcohol consumption, and almost all behaviors and postures.
To the surprise of the researchers, they also found that public figures, for example, have little to no effect on people’s behavior. If a public figure decides to start a diet, it has no effect on their followers. On the other hand, if your friend does the same, it can affect you.
This theory makes us assume that we are not islands and that everything we do and say affects the people around us in one way or another. It also tells us that if we want change, we have to start with ourselves. Inconspicuously, this is spreading and leading to the great changes that many people are longing for.