In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that social epidemics are driven in large part by the acting of a tiny minority of special individuals, often called influentials, who are unusually informed, persuasive, or well-connected. The idea is intuitively compelling, but it doesn't explain how ideas actually spread.
The supposed importance of influentials derives from a plausible sounding but largely untested theory called the "two step flow of communication": Information flows from the media to the influentials and from them to everyone else. Marketers have embraced the two-step flow because it suggests that if they can just find and influence the influentials, those selected people will do most of the work for them. The theory also seems to explain the sudden and unexpected popularity of certain looks, brands, or neighborhoods. In many such cases, a cursory search for causes finds that some small group of people was wearing, promoting, or developing whatever it is before anyone else paid attention. Anecdotal evidence of this kind fits nicely with the idea that only certain special people can drive trends
In their recent work, however, some researchers have come up with the finding that influentials have far less impact on social epidemics than is generally supposed. In fact, they don't seem to be required of all.
The researchers' argument stems from a simple observing about social influence, with the exception of a few celebrities like Oprah Winfrey—whose outsize presence is primarily a function of media, not interpersonal, influence—even the most influential members of a population simply don't interact with that many others. Yet it is precisely these non-celebrity influentials who, according to the two-step-flow theory, are supposed to drive social epidemics by influencing their friends and colleagues directly. For a social epidemic to occur, however, each person so affected, must then influence his or her own acquaintances, who must in turn influence theirs, and so on; and just how many others pay attention to each of these people has little to do with the initial influential. If people in the network just two degrees removed from the initial influential prove resistant, for example, the cascade of change won't propagate very far or affect many people.
Building on the basic truth about interpersonal influence, the researchers studied the dynamics of populations manipulating a number of variables relating of populations, manipulating a number of variables relating to people's ability to influence others and their tendency to be influenced. Our work shows that the principal requirement for what we call "global cascades" – the widespread propagation of influence through networks – is the presence not of a few influentials but, rather, of a critical mass of easily influenced people.
31. By citing the book The Tipping Point, the author intends to
[A] analyze the consequences of social epidemics
[B] discuss influentials' function in spreading ideas
[C] exemplify people's intuitive response to social epidemics
[D] describe the essential characteristics of influentials.
32. The author suggests that the "two-step-flow theory"
[A] serves as a solution to marketing problems
[B] has helped explain certain prevalent trends
[C] has won support from influentials
[D] requires solid evidence for its validity
33. What the researchers have observed recently shows that
[A] the power of influence goes with social interactions
[B] interpersonal links can be enhanced through the media
[C] influentials have more channels to reach the public
[D] most celebrities enjoy wide media attention
34. The underlined phrase "these people" in paragraph 4 refers to the ones who
[A] stay outside the network of social influence
[B] have little contact with the source of influence
[C] are influenced and then influence others
[D] are influenced by the initial influential
35. what is the essential element in the dynamics of social influence?
[A] The eagerness to be accepted
[B] The impulse to influence others
[C] The readiness to be influenced
[D] The inclination to rely on others
在《 引爆点》 一书中， 这本书作者马尔科姆· 格莱德威尔认为， “ 社会风尚的流行” 在很大程度上受一小部分特殊人物的推动。 这些人经常被称为有影响力的人物， 他们见多识广， 能说会道， 社交广泛。 从直觉上讲， 这种观点颇具说服力， 但是这并不能解释风尚是如何真正流行开来的。
对有影响力的人物的重要性的假定来自于一种听起来似乎有道理却又基本上没有经过验证的理论： “ 两级传播论” ， 该理论认为信息从媒体传播到有影响力的人物， 继而从这些人传播到其他人。商人们非常欢迎这种两步流动理论， 因为这意味着， 如果他们恰好能够发现并且影响这些有影响力的人物， 这些精挑细选出来的人就会帮助他们做剩下的大多数工作。 看上去这一理论也能解释为什么一些穿着打扮、品牌或者网络社区能够突然出人意料地火爆起来。 在许多类似的案例中， 对于其中的原因进行的粗略调查表明， 总有一小群人率先穿着打扮、 提倡、 发展一些风尚， 然后其他人才会关注。这种主观的事实证据与“ 只有一些特殊人物才能推动潮流” 的观点完全吻合。
然而， 在最近的研究中， 一些研究人员有了新的发现， 有影响力的人物在社会风尚流行中的影响力并没有人们所认为的那么大。 实际上， 他们似乎并不是流行风尚的必需因素。
研究人员的观点源自对社会影响的直接观察： 除了奥普拉· 温弗瑞这样的少数名人之外—他们频繁地亮相主要是媒体炒作的结果， 而不是人际关系上的影响—即使最有影响力的人物也无法影响到那么多其他的人。 不过， 根据两级传播论， 正是这些不是名人的有影响力的人物， 通过直接影响他们的朋友和同事， 促进了社会风尚的流行。然而， 对于将要流行的社会风尚来说， 每个受到影响的人随后都会去影响他或她所熟悉的人， 继而这些人又必定会去影响他们所熟悉的人， 等等；到底有多少人会注意到这些传播者中的每一个人与最初发起的那个有影响力的人关系不大。 举例来说， 如果传播网中的人们与最初发起的那个有影响力的人物保持一定的距离， 那么这种连锁变化不会进行多远， 也就不会影响到很多人。
基于这一人际影响的基本事实， 研究人员研究了人口动态学， 掌握了一系列与人们影响他人的能力和受他人影响的可能性相关的变量。 他们的研究工作表明，出现我们所称的“ 全球性连锁影响” （ 通过人际网络使影响得到广泛传播） 的最主要的条件不是个别有影响力的人物的出现， 而是大批易受影响的人群的出现。