The Sociological Science Behind Social Networks and Social Influence
Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a social scientist and physician who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care, and longevity. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Harvard University. He is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School; Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He is the Master of Pforzheimer House in Harvard College.
Dr. Christakis’ lab is currently focused on the relationship between social networks and health. People are inter-connected, and so their health is inter-connected. 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”). Other ongoing investigations in the lab consider the biodemographic determinants of longevity and the genetic bases for human behaviors.