Think of the last book that you read, restaurant you ate at, or movie that you watched. What do each of these seemingly unrelated events have in common? All three were likely influenced by friends, family members, or colleagues. More important decisions, such as what neighborhood to live in, what school to send our children to, or who to have as a family doctor, are all similarly influenced.

Both the mundane and important decisions of our lives are strongly affected by a process known as social diffusion or diffusion of innovations.1 In contrast with what nonpersonal sources of information, such as brochures or advertising, conversations that we have with others, and particularly with those whom we trust and perceive as similar to ourselves, have an inordinate influence.2 While social diffusion has been studied and applied extensively in fields such as public health, it has received surprisingly little attention…

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