Photo of Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger

Associate Professor of Marketing

Research Interests: diffusion, identity, consumer decision making, product adoption and abandonment, social contagion, social influence, viral marketing, word of mouth

Links: CV, Personal Website

Contact Information

Address: 768 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut Street
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304
Email: jberger@wharton.upenn.edu
Office: (215) 898-8249
Office Fax: (215) 898-2534

Overview

Author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

jonahberger.com

What makes ideas viral and products spread contagiously? Professor Jonah Berger studies social epidemics, or how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on and become popular. He examines how individual decision making and social dynamics (e.g., social influence) between people generate collective outcomes such as social contagion and trends. Most recently, Professor Berger has examined why certain products get more word-of-mouth than others and why certain online content goes viral.

His research has been published in top-tier academic journals including the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, Management Science, Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Popular accounts of his work have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Science, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Business Week, Wired, and The Economist and his research has been featured in the New York Times Magazine's Year in Ideas.

 

Research


  • Katherine L. Milkman, Jonah Berger (Under Review), The Science of Sharing and the Sharing of Science.
  • Jonah Berger, Raghuram Iyengar (MKTG) (Forthcoming), Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message.  
  • Jonah Berger, Raghuram Iyengar (2013), Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message, Journal of Consumer Research  
  • Zoey Chen, Jonah Berger (Forthcoming), When, Why, and How Controversy Causes Conversation.  
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger, Gia Nardini (Work In Progress), How Tradeoffs Shrink Attribute Hierarchy.  
  • Alixandra Barasch, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Broadcasting and Narrowcasting: How Audience Size Impacts What People Share.  
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger (2012), How Attribute Quantity Influences Option Choice, Journal of Marketing Research, XLIX, 942 - 953.    Abstract
  • Blakeley McShane, Eric Bradlow, Jonah Berger (2012), Visual Influence and Social Groups, Journal of Marketing Research, XLIX, 854 - 871.    Abstract
  • Jonah Berger (Work In Progress), How Senses Shape Language: The Cultural Success of Sensory Metaphors.  
  • Jonah Berger (Work In Progress), Word-of-Mouth and Interpersonal Communication: An Organizing Framework and Directions for Future Research.  
  • Cindy Chan, Jonah Berger, Leaf Van Boven (2012), Identifiable but Not Identical: Combining Social Identity and Uniqueness Motives in Choice, Journal of Consumer Research, 39 (3), 561 - 573.    Abstract
  • Jonah Berger, Katy Milkman (2012), What Makes Online Content Viral?, Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Amit Bhattacharjee, Jonah Berger, Geeta Menon (Working), Escaping the Crosshairs: Reactance to Identity Marketing.  
  • Cindy Chan, Jonah Berger, Leaf Van Boven (Under Review), Identifiable but not Identical: Combining Social Identity and Uniqueness Motives in Choice.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Eric Schwartz (2011), What Drives Immediate and Ongoing Word-of-Mouth?, Journal of Marketing Research, October, 869-880.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger (2011), Decision Quicksand: When Trivial Choices Suck Us In, Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Eva Buechel, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Facebook Therapy? Why Do People Share Self-Relevant Content Online?.  
  • Jonah Berger (2011), Arousal Increases Social Transmission of Information, Psychological Science, 22(7), 891-893.  
  • Jonah Berger, Devin Pope (2011), Can Losing Lead to Winning?, Management Science, 57(5), 817-827.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Ben Ho, Yogesh Joshi (Working), Identity Signaling with Social Capital: A Model of Symbolic Consumption.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Baba Shiv (2011), Food, Sex, and the Hunger for Distinction, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21, 464 - 472.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger (Working), Does Presentation Order Impact Choice After Delay?.    Abstract  Description
  • Raghu Iyengar, Jonah Berger (Under Review), How the Quantity and Timing of Social Influence Impact Product Adoption.    Abstract
  • Lindsay Rand, Jonah Berger, eds., Using Identity Signaling to Combat Obeisity and Improve Public Health (2011).  
  • Nathanael J. Fast, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Message Splitting: Using Self-Relevant Material to Increase Prosocial Behavior.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Morgan Ward (2010), Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption, Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 555 - 569.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Alan T. Sorensen, Scott J. Rasmussen (2010), Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales, Marketing Science, 29 (5), 815 - 827.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Andrew Stephen, Jonah Berger (Working), Creating Contagious: How Social Networks and Item Characteristics Combine to Spur Ongoing Consumption and Drive Social Epidemics.    Abstract
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath, Ben Ho (Working), Divergence in Cultural Practices: Tastes as Signals of Identity.  
  • Yaniv Dover, Jonah Berger, Jacob Goldenberg, Daniel Shapira (Working), Using the Internet to Spot Secrets.  
  • Jonah Berger (Working), When Does Social Influence Attract versus Repel? Identity-Signaling, Conformity, and Divergence.  
  • Lindsay Rand, Jonah Berger, eds., Leveraging Consumer Psychology for Effective Health Communications: The Obesity Challenge (2010).
  • Jonah Berger, "Using Identity Signaling to Improve Public Health". In Leveraging Consumer Psychology for Effective Health Communications: The Obesity Challenge, edited by Lindsay Rand, Jonah Berger, (2010).
  • Jonah Berger, Gael Le Mens (2009), How Adoption Speed Affects the Abandonment of Cultural Tastes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 8146 - 8150.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Aner Sela, Jonah Berger, Wendy Liu (2009), Variety, Vice, and Virtue: How Assortment Size Influences Option Choice, Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (3), 941 - 951.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger (2009), Key Considerations in Studying Cultural Abandonment Using Baby Names, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath (2008), Who Drives Divergence? Identity-Signaling, Outgroup Dissimilarity, and the Abandonment of Cultural Tastes, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95 (3), 593 - 607.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Lindsay Rand (2008), Shifting Signals to Help Health: Using Identity-Signaling to Reduce Risky Health Behaviors, Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (2), 509 - 518.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith, S. Christian Wheeler (2008), Contextual Priming: Where People Vote Affects How They Vote, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (26), 8846 - 8849.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger (2008), Identity-Signaling, Social Influence, and Social Contagion, Peer Influence Processes Among Youth, Eds. Mitch Prinstein and Ken Dodge, Guilford Press.  
  • Jonah Berger, Grainne M. Fitzsimons (2008), Dogs on the Street, Pumas on Your Feet: How Cues in the Environment Influence Product Evaluation and Choice, Journal of Marketing Research, 45 (1), 1 - 14.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath (2007), Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity-Signaling and Product Domains, Journal of Consumer Research, 34 (2), 121 - 134.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • S. Christian Wheeler, Jonah Berger (2007), When the Same Prime Leads to Different Effects, Journal of Consumer Research, 34 (3), 357 - 368.    Abstract  Description
  • Jonah Berger, Michaela Draganska, Itamar Simonson (2007), The Influence of Product Variety on Brand Perceptions and Choice, Marketing Science, 26, 460 - 472.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Emily Pronin, Jonah Berger, Sarah Molouki (2007), Alone in a Crowd of Sheep: Asymmetric Perceptions of Conformity and Their Roots in an Introspection Illusion,, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92 (4), 585 - 595.    Abstract  Description  Related Materials
  • Jonah Berger (2006), Focal points in coordinated divergence, Journal of Economic Psychology  
  • Jonah Berger, Chip Heath (2005), Idea Habitats: How the Prevalence of Environmental Cues Influences the Success of Ideas, Cognitive Science, 29 (2), 195 - 221.    Abstract  Description

Awards And Honors

  • Early Career Award, Association for Consumer Research, 2012
  • Early Career Award, Society for Consumer Psychology, 2012
  • MBA Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award, 2011
  • MSI - Young Scholars Program, 2011
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Research, 2011
  • Top 10 Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2011
  • Winner, Iron Professor Competition, The Wharton School, 2011
  • JCR Best Paper in 2007 Award, Finalist, 2010

In The News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Courses

Previous

  • MKTG228 - Contagious: How Products, Ideas, and Behaviors Catch On

    Why do some products catch on and achieve huge popularity while others fail? Why do some behaviors spread like wildfire while others languish? How do certain ideas seem to stick in memory while others disappear the minute you hear them? More broadly, what factors lead to trends, social contagion, and social epidemics?

  • MKTG399 - Independent Study

  • MKTG728 - Contagious: How Products, Ideas and Behaviors Catch On

    Why do some products catch on and achieve huge popularity while others fail? Why do some behaviors spread like wildfire while others languish? How do certain ideas seem to stick in memory while others disappear the minute you hear them? More broadly, what factors lead to trends, social contagion, and social epidemics?

  • MKTG899 - Independent Study

    A student contemplating an independent study project must first find a faculty member who agrees to supervise and approve the student's written proposal as an independent study (MKTG 899). If a student wishes the proposed work to be used to meet the ASP requirement, he/she should then submit the approved proposal to the MBA adviser who will determine if it is an appropriate substitute. Such substitutions will only be approved prior to the beginning of the semester.