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Meet the Experts: Jonah Berger

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Jonah Berger

Author, Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Associate Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School 

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Jonah Berger is an expert on word of mouth and how products and ideas become popular.  He’s the James G. Campbell associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. He studies social influence and social epidemics, or how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on and become popular. Berger explains the key emotional and societal factors that push people to share a link or mail a video – the basic human drivers that power sharing and word of mouth, one of the most credible and influential forms of advertising. He believes we are too focused on the medium – Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter only serve as tools that amplify this very human process. The author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Berger examines how decision making and social dynamics generate collective outcomes such as social contagion and trends.  He reveals the science behind word of mouth and social transmission and addresses how six basic principles – social currency, triggers, emotions, public, practical value, and stories – drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos.

Berger has published dozens of articles in top-tier academic journals like Journal of Consumer Research, Marketing Science, and myriad others. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Wired, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Atlantic and Economist. Berger has been recognized with numerous awards for both scholarship and teaching, including Wharton’s “Iron Professor” Teaching Award and the MBA Curricular Innovation Award. He also received the Journal of Consumer Research’s Best Paper Award and Early Career Awards from both the Association for Consumer Research and the Society for Consumer Psychology.