It’s not only obesity that might spread from person to person to person through a social network but also, to name just a few: depression, smoking cessation, divorce, happiness and the likelihood we’ll cast a vote in an election.
James Fowler of Political Science is widely known for his social-network research. His findings on obesity, coauthored with Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, made headlines around the world in 2007 and appeared on the front pages of many newspapers – as well as in editorial cartoons and the monologues of late-night comics.
After his book Connected, also coauthored with the same Harvard colleague, came out, Fowler was a guest on the Colbert Report and was memorably called “Jimmy Jam” by the popular host. But Fowler doesn’t do his work for chuckles. Cited as one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” Fowler also studies the genetic basis of political behavior, evolutionary game theory, behavioral economics, political participation and cooperation. All with an eye to both advancing our basic understanding of human beings – and to informing the policy decisions we make.