The 0-1-2 effect

Naturally, people are influenced by their neighbors in the social network — the more friends you observe doing something the more inclined you are to do it – and, naturally, there are diminishing returns – if 99 friends are doing it, then seeing the 100th one do it doesn’t change your behavior much.

However, there’s an important psychological effect – the 0-1-2 effect — that runs contrary to diminishing returns.  According to Jon Kleinberg

the probability of joining an activity when two friends have done so is significantly more than twice the probability of joining when only one has done so

According to Peter Denning

An innovation is a transformation of practice in a community. It is not the same as the invention of a new idea or object. The real work of innovation is in the transformation of practice.

The 0-1-2 effect suggests that a successful innovator must not merely make initial converts, but also encourage them to be visible about it.



  1. According to Southern Beale

    My own anecdotal tale proves this to be correct. After we installed our own solar array we got tons of calls from neighbors asking how we liked it and who we used. Two of our neighbors have already installed their own PV systems as a result.

    Now we drive an electric car and our same neighbors are inquiring about THAT. Marketers have long known the power of early adopters to influence friends and neighbors, but I really think people are interested and craving energy efficiency and green technology in their daily lives. No one wants to throw their money away on high utility bills.


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