The Hidden Influence of Our Social Networks

The Hidden Influence of Social Networks - How Might We Leverage Their Power In Health and Innovation?Does the health of your friends’ friends’ friends have any relationship to your own? How about to your outlook on life? Your general happiness or grumpiness? Your approach to problems and opportunities?

In this TED video, Nicholas Christakis, the author of Connected, explores the hidden (and quite powerful) influence of our social networks.

In this video Dr. Christakis discusses some of his findings related directly to health and wellness.

“If your friends are obese, your risk of obesity is 45 percent higher. … If your friend’s friends are obese, your risk of obesity is 25 percent higher. … If your friend’s friend’s friend, someone you probably don’t even know, is obese, your risk of obesity is 10 percent higher. It’s only when you get to your friend’s friend’s friend’s friends that there’s no longer a relationship between that person’s body size and your own body size.” – Nicholas Christakis

How might our face-to-face social networks within the workplace (within clinical healthcare) impact our work? Our productivity? Our bedside manner? Our perception of policies and procedures? Our leadership styles?

Might we be able to leverage our professional social connections to improve healthcare delivery? We think so. Be on the lookout for more information on the MedStar Institute for Innovation’s enterprise social collaboration tool, MI2 Sense. (If you would like to learn more, contact Ed Tori, MI2’s Director of Presence at ed.tori [at]

I think we form social networks because the benefits of a connected life outweigh the costs. If I was always violent towards you or gave you misinformation or made you sad or infected you with deadly germs, you would cut the ties to me, and the network would disintegrate. So the spread of good and valuable things is required to sustain and nourish social networks. Similarly, social networks are required for the spread of good and valuable things, like love and kindness and happiness and altruism and ideas. I think, in fact, that if we realized how valuable social networks are, we’d spend a lot more time nourishing them and sustaining them, because I think social networks are fundamentally related to goodness. And what I think the world needs now is more connections. – Nicholas Christakis

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