If just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will be adopted by the majority, a new study says.
Public health campaigns might do well to target a small percentage of a community.
Getting an entire population to adopt a new belief might require simply convincing 10 percent to believe it first.
One example was the fogging of insecticides as an anti-mosquito strategy in Arizona.
To change the beliefs of an entire community, only 10 percent of the population needs to become convinced of a new or different opinion, suggests a new study done at the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. At that tipping point, the idea can spread through social networks and alter behaviors on a large scale.
The research is still in its early stages, and it's uncertain if the results will apply to all kinds of beliefs, particularly in tense political situations.
But the findings do provide insight into how opinions spread through communities. The model may also help experts more effectively quell misconceptions and influence the choices people make about public health behaviors and related issues.